Okay, we know it all sounds a bit Human Centipede. But according to an honest-to-God neuroscientist, head transplants could soon end up being more than the butt of bad jokes.
Thanks to advances in spinal-cord surgery, it's now technically, allegedly possible to move somebody's head onto someone else's body, and just...meld the neck to the spine. In more disturbing news, science has actually been practicing this on animals for some time. (We know you just checked your Web page, and no: we are not The Onion.)
We'll explain. So, Dr. Sergio Frankenstein–um, Canavero—recently drew up a paper outlining exactly how it might be done, and published it in Surgical Neurology International. His thinking is as follows: since it's now more feasible than ever to reconnect broken spinal cords, the logical next step is to think about how you'd link a headless spine (the stuff of nightmares, we'd call it) to a spineless head. This has actually been carried out, successfully, in animals. Since 1970.
We'll put an image in here. Because of course you were wondering.
(Image: White et al., 1971)
To carry out this bonafide medical procedure, you'd firstly have to get very, very drunk. Then, you'd chill both bodies, remove both heads at the same time, and slip the donor head onto the donor body. And you'd stop the heart, obviously. Finally, you'd link up the spinal cords using cutting-edge techniques—just last week, this worked successfully in rats—and, we imagine, break into movie-villain laughter.
Theoretically, this could allow paraplegics and other victims of disease robbed of the use of their bodies to re-gain full movement. Estimates place the cost at around $13 million dollars.
Open University's Dr. Stephen Rose responded to this groundbreaking advancement with the following statement: "This is medical technology run completely mad."
In other words: WHAT. THE. EFF.