Mad Scientist Examines the Possibility of Human Head Transplants

Bioethics   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Dec 13, 2013   |   3:49PM   |   Washington, DC

Transhumanists and immortalists yearn for it, some futurists predict it, science fiction movie makers spin fun tales from it–but do I think we will ever transplant human heads? No.

But some spend the precious moments of their lives contemplating such things. From the i09 We Come From the Future story:

Dr. Sergio Canavero, who works for the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, published his proposal in the medical journal Surgical Neurology International —and he’s calling it the “Head Anastomois Venture,” or HEAVEN — the “first human head transplantation with spinal linkage.” The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavor, he says, is the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords.

And the projected cost?

He says that the procedure could be available in about two years, and that a team of 100 surgeons could perform the operation in 36 hours — and at a cost of $12.9 million.

Good grief, children still die of measles in Africa and some people want to transplant a head?

What about the morality of the thing?

Canavero concludes his study by saying that he “has not addressed the ethical aspects of HEAVEN…”However, it is equally clear that horrible conditions without a hint of hope of improvement cannot be relegated to the dark corner of medicine. This paper lays out the groundwork for the first successful human head transplant.”

No. Sometimes we have to face that death is a part of life and medicine’s job–along with other disciplines–is to make that transition comfortable, peaceful, and hopefully, meaningful.



Like I said, I don’t believe John will ever have his head transplanted onto Peter’s body.  But some do, so I share the story for your weekend’s entertainment. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.