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Out of the Ordinary

Human Head Transplant: Plastic Surgery of the Future

Cynthia Martin

If only human heads were as easy to transplant as gummi bears

Not happy with your body? Swap it out for a new model

Human head transplants could replace the need for assisting equipment for paralyzed persons. Or it could become the plastic surgery of the future. Scientists view this latest development as a step forward in medical research. This author is not so optimistic.

Did you know that scientists have been attempting to swap heads and bodies on animals since the 1970’s? No? Obviously PETA didn’t either, since it’s been going on for 40 years. Even scarier, they’ve actually succeeded.

But that depends on your definition of success. If you view success as a monkey that is living in some zoo with a body it wasn’t born with, then you have the wrong definition. The “successful” head transplants that people like Italian neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero are talking about are when the monkey lived for a few days, completely paralyzed.

Canavero has hope that the procedure will someday be possible. It’s a long way from human testing, but that doesn’t stop his speculation that it could happen. The hurdle lies in the connecting of the two spinal cords.

Should human head transplants become possible, it opens up some unique opportunities. Para- and quadriplegics could potentially have a new working bodies. Maybe those born with debilitating physical conditions would be cured by getting a head transplant. Or maybe, just maybe, millionaires will use it in place of multiple plastic surgeries.

Canavero estimates that a human head transplant could cost around $13 million. That makes it something that paraplegics won’t be able to afford. Only the incredibly wealthy will be able to afford a new body.

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