Guy Volunteers for World's First Head Transplant
Valery Spiridonov is chosen to undergo radical surgery
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2015 6:00 PM CDT
A surgeon at work.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – Some call it insane. One describes a fate "worse than death." But for a 30-year-old Russian man whose muscles are wasting away, Dr. Sergio Canavero's plan to transplant a human head is highly appealing, reports Medical News Today. "I can hardly control my body now," says Valery Spiridonov, a computer scientist with Werdnig-Hoffman disease. "I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease." Canavero, an Italian physician, says he's received many offers from people willing to undergo the world's first human head transplant—including transsexuals seeking another body, CNN reports. But Canavero wanted someone suffering from muscle atrophy, and chose Spiridonov.

Canavero plans to reveal more about his project—first revealed in 2013 and dubbed HEAVEN-GEMINI—in June at a medical conference in Annapolis, MD. He says the operation will require 150 doctors and nurses, many of whom have asked to join the team. "I say two years is the time needed for the team to reach perfect synchronization," says Canavero. After a 36-hour operation, the patient would lie in coma for about a month while doctors use electrical stimulation in an effort to connect spinal-cord nerves to the new head. But many experts dismiss his plan as laughable or dangerous; a monkey died after undergoing a head transplant in 1970. "I would not wish this on anyone," says a prominent neurologist. "There are a lot of things worse than death." (One science writer calls it "insane. Like, James Bond villain insane.")