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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Solved: This guy's problem

If you think it's not easy being green, try it with no head.

Do you keep bumping into doors and other obstacles, have trouble finding your nose, don't know where to put your ear rings, food just falls on the floor when you try to eat?  Then maybe you have no head.

Just read a NYTimes book review of The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz that was described this way:
"When a pediatric surgeon... returns from a medical conference in Paris, she discovers her husband has died suddenly of an embolism... and makes a horrifying discovery... "

She learns his head has been removed from his body--because of his secret prior written request--and kept cryogenically viable awaiting the future when it can be joined to a new body and live forever.

Well, if the genre is science fiction, them perhaps it should be reclassified. Very recent medical happenings point to the first head to body (or body to head really because that's the brains of the outfit) transplant is targeted for December, 2017. Really. 

I've dealt with this problem in this blog before , scooping major news media I might add, and while it sounds like some cult happening, it is serious-- though I never treat much with such seriousness here.

Just thought you might find interesting what the man who is first-in-line for head transplant surgery has to say about it. (And no, it's not Ted Williams.) Truth is, he can hardly wait. As for the body part of the transplant, I'm guessing some body will be in for a big surprise.

Both the Wall Street Journal (Surgery's Far Frontier: Head Transplants)and New York Times (Could Anyone Really Transplant a Head?) have featured this surgical concept recently (are they reading my blog?) to its predictable conclusion... with a big "who knows?"

The general consensus... it is technically possible but no one knows yet how it will turn out. Frankenstein's monster did have his problems, you may recall. The surgeon who plans to perform this first proceedure on a human is Dr. Sergio Canavero. He has had some success in his trials. He has gotten a monkey's head to live briefly on a new body. And he has had success with mice, his primary test species. Great. Just what we need... mice zombies.

What we don't know is... everything. If the brain is left-handed and the body is right, will they fight or be ambidextrous? Will the foot do what the brain tells it to do or go off in some willy-nilly way? Would a male head ever be affixed to a female body? And what about the ethics of it all?

I do remember the first heart transplant in 1953 by Dr. Christian Barnard in South Africa. Man lived almost 24 hours... but he led the way to a procedure that is now not unique. The guy who volunteered for the first head transplant acknowledges he may die (like yeah)... but would be pleased if it proved a stepping stone to future success.

I hate to brag but I've done this head-to-body thing privately, more times than I can recall. Am I a man of medicine? No, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night... and my grand daughter is very happy about the whole thing.

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