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Monday, March 16, 2015

What do Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams and comedian Steve Martin have in common?

What do Ted Williams and Steve Martin have in common? It's more bizarre than you might think... but tantalizingly possible.

In 1999, Martin starred in The Man With Two Brains, a very funny move about a world-famous neurosurgeon who fell in love with a living human brain in a lab jar (voiced by the ever-talented Sissy Spacek) and finds himself in the middle of murders committed by the elevator killer.

Ted Williams--the greatest hitter baseball ever knew-- died in 2002 and, after some contention as to his final wishes, his head was severed and "put into biostasis (frozen cryogenically) ... to be together in the future even if it is our only chance."

Frankenstein's Monster
Add one more story that gives the whole thing believability. This was actually done way back in 1818 when a doctor completed a brain transplant into a cadaver and HE LIVED!

Oh, that was fiction? You mean Dr. Frankenstein wasn't real?

Martin's movie was a comedy, Williams' story a tragedy and Dr. Frankenstein's, a comedy (The Gene Wilder version) but all now have a basis in factual possibility, according to Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero.

The Doctor plans to stitch a 'fresh' brain to a body of a very recent deceased by their spinal cords, hooking the rest of the blood vessels, airways, etc. to regenerate cells in the central nervous system. Canavero likens those million of sharply severed neurons to spaghetti. "Italians adore spaghetti, I love spaghetti and spaghetti is what is called for here," he says with conviction.

There is more detail but ethically, I will not print it here lest you be tempted to try it at home. However, where seems to be some credibility to it all (it has shown promise in mice), though not much believability that it will work. And of course, there are always the details... ethics and stuff like that.

Another caution, the Doctor advises, "Once the connections are made, you don't want the wrong connections getting created." I'm guessing he is referring to feet backward and other small details. 

"He's insane. You can't put a head on somebody else!" says another noted neurosurgeon... but didn't they call the Wright brothers crazy? And how about sliced bread? Somebody had to think of that.

Dr. Canavero points to possible breakthroughs in spinal cord injury treatment as early as 2017 and, as strange as this all seems, I'm all for hope of that.

Who is admired more than someone with a good head on his/her shoulders?

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