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Head Transplants Might Only Be 10 Years Away

A former neurosurgeon reckons it can be done

What you need to know
  • Science is gross.

Are you tired of having to take care of your body? Sick of dieting and exercise? Or do you just want to live forever? Well, then we have some good and terrifying news for you.

As it turns out, a bunch of scientists (who must be stopped before they create a Frankenstein that will destroy us all) have been trying to do it for years, and one of them thinks it will be achieved by 2030.

This will not end well.

Bruce Mathew, who is a former National Health Service neurosurgeon in the UK, believes it can be done, so long as surgeons are able to transplant not just a person’s head, but – content warning – also their entire spinal cord into another body. Yuck.

“If you transplant the brain and keep the brain and spinal cord together, it’s actually not impossible,” he told The Telegraph. “The spinal cord is the most profound thing imaginable. You need to keep the brain connected to the spinal cord. The idea that you cut the split the spinal cord is utterly ridiculous.” Yuck yuck.

It’s a comment that is a dig at fellow scientist, Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, who earlier this year was critical of colleagues who “stuck to the view that a severed spinal cord cannot be mended in any way, a mantra uncritically repeated over and over,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Earlier this year, Canavero along with Chinese surgeon Ren Xiaoping claimed that they repaired fully severed spinal cords in dogs and monkeys, who were able to walk after reattachment surgery.

This followed Canavero claiming 2015 to have performed a “successful” transplant on a corpse after severing the spinal cord. It’s a bit weird calling this procedure ‘successful’ given that the corpse did not come back to life and kill us all. But, according to Canavero, it was successful in the sense that electrical stimulation proved the spinal cord was still functional.

Of course, whether or not scientists can do something does not address whether they should do something. We’ve all seen Jurassic Park (though we would not recommend Jurassic World or Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which are both terrible movies).

If scientists are able to successfully transplant heads, it could be a way of curing those with terminal disease. It could also mean you can just place your head onto a hot body instead of having to go through the rigmarole of diet and exercise.

But, it does mean we could be on the cusp of a world where all of a sudden people can live forever by just hopping from one body to another. But do people actually want to live forever? Keith Richards is 176 and he seems pretty tired.

According to Mathew, there are currently “thousands of people in deep freezes, often just heads, and companies who really believe you will one day be able to reawaken them from the dead, cure them of disease, and give them new bodies.”

Basically, once we work out how to do this, we’ll have thousands of people to thaw out in the sink before we start bringing them back to life. Enjoy thinking about that for the rest of the day.