Russian man volunteers to undergo controversial 36-hour head transplant procedure
Picture of Valery Spiridinov, who has reportedly requested to undergo a head transplant [Ora.TV]

A 30-year-old Russian man has volunteered to undergo a 36-hour head transplant in a last-ditch effort to beat a rare disease causing his muscles to shrink, Huffington Post UK reported.


Valery Spiridinov is hoping that Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon saying the procedure is possible, will be able to operate on him. Spiridinov currently suffers from Type I spinal muscular atrophy, a condition formerly known as Werdnig-Hoffmann disease.

The two men have not met in person, but have discussed the procedure for the past two years via the online platform Skype.

"I need help every day, any minute," Spiridinov said. "I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease."

Cavanero outlined the procedure in a paper published in the journal Surgical Neurology International this past February. The New Scientist reported that he believes it could be achieved by 2017.

According to Cavanero, the procedure would take 36 hours and a medical team of 150 to complete. He is seeking to raise about 7.5 million pounds, or just over $11 million, to cover the cost of the surgery.

"This technology is similar to the first man to walk in space," Spiridinov said. "This is because in the future it will help thousands of people who are in an even more deplorable state than I am."

Cavanero stated in his paper that he would remove the patient's head from their body via a "clean cut" to their spinal column before attaching it to a living donor's body. The spinal column would then be injected with polyethylene glycol, a polymer that he said would allow cells in fat membranes to come together. Cavanero and his team would then use electrodes to stimulate nerve connections between the patient's new head and their body, a process that would require the patient to lay in an induced coma for several weeks.

The procedure has drawn skepticism from the American Association for Neurological Surgeons; the group's president-elect, Hunt Batjer, said, "I would not wish this on anyone. I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death."

Watch a report on the procedure, as aired on Ora.TV, below.