Two days ago, we reported on a controversial paper by Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canaveri about human head transplants. The paper, entitled "HEAVEN: The head anastomosis venture Project outline for the first human head transplantation with spinal linkage," makes a claim straight out of science fiction: that the technology required for successful human-head transplantation is finally here, and that it could be used to help people with irreparable damage to their bodies and spinal cords.
But is it ethical?
Before human head transplantation could enter the realm of consideration, scientists would have to perform multiple successful experiments on primates, Stephen Latham, a bioethicist at Yale University, says. And none of those, he believes, would be condoned by any reasonable ethics committee.
But say the primate experiments did pass the ethics test. And so did the human trials. The fact remains that a head transplant is a bit outrageous for the needs of most patients, Latham says. In the case of quadriplegics, or individuals with full-body paralysis, scientists would perform less invasive surgical procedures before they attempted to replace the patient's entire body, he says. "If you'd have the technology to attach spinal columns, you'd have certainly developed the technology to repair somebody's broken spinal column," he says, laughing.
Which gets at another ethical quandary: doctors might be motivated to perform head-switching operations for all the wrong reasons, Dr. Christopher Scott, a bioethicist and regenerative medicine expert at Stanford, worries. "You'd have to make sure the motivations are around a true medical need, and not some desire to be famous," he says. "These questions have been raised before, in procedures like face transplants."
In true bioethicist fashion, Scott notes that the surgery would raise some thorny philosophical questions, chief among them what makes us human: "What is the donor and what's the recipient?" he says. "We all have an idea of personhood, right? Of what a person is. You know, a baby or a human becomes a person. And this procedure turns it on its head. Is this a person that the body belongs to, or the person the head belongs to? It's a chimera, a hybrid person. …Those are some of the deeper questions that we should have a real discussion about."
"Latham says. In the case of quadriplegics, or individuals with full-body paralysis, scientists would perform less invasive surgical procedures before they attempted to replace the patient’s entire body, he says. “If you’d have the technology to attach spinal columns, you’d have certainly developed the technology to repair somebody’s broken spinal column,” he says, laughing."
I don't believe this is true. Attaching a surgically precise cut spinal column is ENTIRELY different from repairing a current spinal column. If you read the research from the cited neurosurgeon, it would become very apparent that there is necessity for a timed precise incision.
"In true bioethicist fashion, Scott notes that the surgery would raise some thorny philosophical questions, chief among them what makes us human: “What is the donor and what’s the recipient?” he says. “We all have an idea of personhood, right? Of what a person is. You know, a baby or a human becomes a person. And this procedure turns it on its head. Is this a person that the body belongs to, or the person the head belongs to? It’s a chimera, a hybrid person. …Those are some of the deeper questions that we should have a real discussion about."'
I think this shows a lack of understanding on where the consciousness lies and what part of the body actually houses the "you". The brain houses your personality, history, beliefs, etc. Your body is the vehicle that your brain uses to sustain itself. It is beliefs like illustrated in this article that keep fantastic artificial evolutions of humankind from moving forward.
What if as they search and suddenly find for a compatible donor body, turns out the be the opposite sex?
What if with good biology immune suppression drugs they offer you a body of a pig or another animal? Would you take it even as a temporary, until a better body is later found to maintain your life?
What if they could successfully attaché you to a electro mechanical biological machine and maintain your life of you head, until a body is found to maintain your life? After being attache to this machine you found you were able to live several 100 of years or more, would it be better to refuse then a donar human body?
You can fix spinal column - you simply need a donor for it then. Cut away a piece where it was damaged, and replace with properly sized precision cut piece - it is afterall, a bundle of nerves.
What is aperson? its different for everyone, a ethnicity commitee or such cant decide that.
If a religious person decides that person is a soul then... why should they care about the body.
Scientific person might believe its the brain - again no problems.
Our main features that identify us is in our faces - the shape colors and scars etc.
Different face and same body makes you look lek a new person, it wont vice verse - as long as the body is overall same shape and tone.
The bad side of this is billonaires and other rich and powerful people BUYING new, young bodies with features they want - like a young 20 yrs old bodybuilder and they can have it. Yous need to...find one that gets into a controlled accident.
Another issue is donors - they cant be dead unlike many organ donors.
The body must be alive and healthy up until transfer.
So braindead people?
Ted Williams' head; sitting at Alcor, believed it was ethical. Alcor has been around a long time now, and has been openly going forward in the face of little resistance from anyone with ethical concerns-who all have known of Alcor all these years. World governments, the AMA, the U.S. Surgeon General, Attorney General, and EVERY religion on the planet knows of Alcor, but I ain't been hearin em squeal.
Is it ethical to remove Ted Williams' choice to make this attempt; that he's paid the bills for in advance? Is it ethical to consign someone to a death for all time, just because something went wrong with his body at some point?
Random thought: This idea would make a very dark and interesting movie/ book.
Here's the thing:
Being able to transplant your head, whether to a machine, or another body has absolutely zero ethical issues. The implications of this could lead to indefinite lifespans. By having a moral issue against indefinite lifespans, you inherently put a limit on the value of human consciousness -something that is truly priceless.
Any moral issue, or ethical issue or other type of issue raised with this is only in conjunction with other hypothetical scenarios or archaic, inaccurate belief systems.
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There was already research on primates to do head transplants. Video....
just look at the video in you tube search primate head transplant.
The head was transplanted without reattaching the spinal column and without organ rejection drugs since none of these procedures were available at the time. The research was shut down due to ethical concerns. Today, stem cells might be able to re grow tissue in the spinal column for a freshly severed spinal column. The ideal way would be to have a brain dead victim and a paralyzed host. I do believe that one day we will look at this like we do heart transplants. At first everyone was thinking we were playing god and now it is commonplace.
First Brain Transplant
The Midnight Archive - A. Head B. Body
Do a internet, Google search yourself of head and or brain transplant.
I think it would be cool to lob off my head and put it on a big gorilla. Then since technically I'm a human I could play professional football and basically so strong I could take the place of the entire defensive line. Or maybe better yet a Polar Bear which is even stronger and bigger at around 2000 lbs maximum. Cool.
just as Linda explained I am shocked that a mom can profit $6614 in a few weeks on the computer. did you look at this page.... www.bay95.com
Google or search the internet Russian experiments in the 1920s for attempting to create new human gorilla or other type of monkey hybrid for the purpose of a better solder.
"... The humanzee (also known as the Chuman or Manpanzee) is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. Chimpanzees and humans are closely related (95% of their DNA sequence, and 99% of coding DNA sequences are in common, leading to contested speculation that a hybrid is possible... "
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This experimant was already done in russia during the cold war the problem with this procedure isn't the spinal colum which we now have the means to repair in some cases useing stem cells but the vagas nerve having being severed could not regulate the bodys temperature and other major functions this is the real obsticle that scientist face when doing a body/head transplant
quasi44, Teddy Williams had his entire body frozen at Alcor, not just his head.
From the transplant perspective, is this any less ethical than taking someone else organs and putting them in another body? If its the ethics of torturing a primate, if the US doesn't do it, another country with less ethics will. Sadly, I would not want to know that some creature died, or was tortured, to make this happen. I do believe that given a little more time, we could develop a technique that didn't need this animal testing. As for nerve repair, I think we are very close to being able to pull off such repairs. Perhaps there is no need for this operation in the near future. All of the possible reasons for this operation are for a body that is badly damaged. I believe all body parts will be able to be repaired. Humans will need to start taking very detailed models of themselves sometime soon to make such repairs possible. Without a detailed picture of your cells, fibers, nerves, etc. there is no template for what it was like before an injury. For those born with horrible deformations, who knows... maybe this is the only viable reason for a head transplant.
As for putting a human head on an animal body, I don't think we should fear this. An animal body will not run on a human brain. The human brain isn't programmed for an animals motabolism, heart rate, resperatory system, immune system, etc. I would "think" this would be like putting a desktop CPU in an iPhone. It would take more than just a transplant to make this work. You would need to reprogram the CPU altogether to handle the new bodies parts. Not likely.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
So what if I want to attach my head to the body of a toddler. The body would be running the same “operating system” as my head.
Would my head continue to age at the same rate as my body?
Would I be the only man in my office to need a booster seat to sit at my desk?
The questions/thoughts running through my head with this article are cracking me up.
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The question asked is could head transplantation be ethical. That would depend upon whether our scientists can find, isolate, and remove whatever can be identified as ones consciousness. Failure to ensure that no speck of any previous consciousness remains would result in the worst possible example of multiple personality disorder.
This question raises a whole different value judgment. Is the person 'good'? It might very well be ethical; for subject A, the world's top vascular surgeon. But say it was Manuel Noriega or some corporate raider or an experienced First World battle commander. Or a top executive from a Central Bank.
This will take us to strange places. Whether we want it to or not.