Monday, 14 September 2015

Head Transplant

If I ever suffer massive brain trauma effectively killing me but not affecting the meat that carries me, I totally consent to being a donor for this kind of transplant.* I hope you'd do the same for me.
An Italian-Chinese medical team plan to perform the world's first head transplant in China, one of the surgeons said Friday, amid concerns over medical ethics in the country.
Ren Xiaoping, who along with Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero, hope to attempt the procedure within two years, but only if the preparatory research and tests go according to plan, Ren said.
"A lot of media have been saying we will definitely attempt the surgery by 2017, but that's only if every step before that proceeds smoothly," Ren told AFP.
Canavero, who leads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, first announced his project in 2013, saying at the time that such a procedure could be possible as soon as 2016.
I know nothing about the relevant biology. But if head transplants wind up working, are cyborgs closer than I'd thought? The rest of the meat is just a way of delivering oxygenated, cleansed, nutrient-rich blood to the brain, right? If we can couple heads to new-meat, is it that much harder to couple it to a machine able to provide that? Wouldn't it be simpler, as robot-body wouldn't reject the head? And there's always this inferior option:

In related news, I've a short op-ed in the Herald on compensating live organ donors.

* I specifically decline consent to anyone who caused the head injury resulting in the meat's becoming available.

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