A New Way Of Moving A head in Life!

by Project Censored

Sergio Canavero a neurologist in Turin, Italy, has recently published a paper on the possibilities of performing a full-body transplant in as early as 2 years. The idea is to graft a living head of a patient who has severe physical impairments to a donor body, and if successful it will give the patient a better quality of life and even possibly prolong it. Organ transplants are routine procedure nowadays, but the reality of a full-body transplant is reason for concern.  At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio Robert White led a team in 1970 that tried to transplant the head of a monkey onto the body of another. It was almost a successful full spinal cord transfer, but the monkey could not move it’s own body. Primates and rats would be the main test subjects until a proven method is approved and significant results are shown.

Even though neuroscientists are skeptical because of the technical difficulties involved in reattaching spinal nerves, Canavero is enthusiastic. In Dr. Canavero’s publication an outline is presented of how the surgery can be performed, along with a startling statement, “If society doesn’t want it, I won’t do it. But if people don’t want it in the U.S. or Europe, that doesn’t mean it won’t be done somewhere else. I’m trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you.” Saving people and improving their quality of life is amazing, but this last statement may lead one tobelieve that there is more to the story.


Ian Sample  “First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims,” The Guardian , February 25, 2015


Student Researcher:  Christopher Rocha, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen , Ph.D., Indian River State College

Ethics alert

This sounds like something right out of a Mary Shelly novel and Sergio Canavero is Victor Frankenstein. Is he a mad scientist creating a creature or is he truly researching and exploring these advances for the good of humanity. The benefits cannot be denied,  if something like this can be performed successfully for a war veteran who is now paraplegic or a child with severe muscular dystrophy, and their quality of life dramatically improves. For such people there may be no greater gift than a new body, which could take them from living a sedentary lifestyle to being able to run, play, travel, and learn in new ways, to having a new outlook and seeing the world from a view they were once denied. I put myself in that person’s shoes and I cannot deny the benefits if such a thing were possible, but what about the danger’s that come with the efforts of making this a reality? Even worse, what about the few who would want to abuse these procedures for cosmetic purposes and change who they are? What about your identity? Who or what do you associate yourself with,  and will gender, race, and ethnicity become a thing of the past?  I know this is the new millennium and medical technological advances are expected to take leaps and bounds, but this seems to be an area that raises difficult ethical dilemmas.

Although we live in the information age, and the thirst for knowledge is greater than ever because of all the tools at our civilization’s disposal, the role of discovery has to have a line drawn somewhere. Who knows what the ramifications could be if we lived in a world where changing bodies is the norm. We are focusing on the benefits of such a surgery, but not enough research and focus is being done on the downside of such a procedure. What are going to be the qualifications for a person to have this done to them and how will it be regulated? Will there be a time in our society where this is globally accepted and instead of eating right and exercising to become healthy, we’re just going to trade in our old body for a new one?  Psychologically,will a person be prepared to wake up with a new body and will it change their persona? We might have in our head that the person is going to be getting the body their choice, but what if it isn’t? What if the body chosen happens to be a different gender or race? How will we identify mentally with male and female anymore? Will gender be considered biological or will it be just a state of mind? A whole lot of questions and not a whole lot of answers!

When saving someone’s life no idea sounds too extreme. Taking a marine who cannot walk because he jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades, and giving him the ability to walk again sounds like a great story and accomplishment; an idea and dream that sounds wonderful given the level of sacrifice this person would have committed to save other lives. He/she deserves a second chance. Methods are provided to give people like this a second chance such as prosthetic limbs, but to give someone a new body is taking prosthetics to a whole new level. Researching such methods may lead to new technological developments that don’t require such ethical debate, but scientists and doctors alike must be careful not to cross the ethical boundaries and try to play the role of God. Dangerous things can happen when knowledge and power do not have checks and balances, and will be abused if given the opportunity.