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Russian religious leaders voice doubt over ethical aspects of head transplantation

April 09, 2015, 10:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Daily Mail earlier reported that the Russian citizen suffering from the incurable disease had given consent to the Italian neurosurgeon for the world’s first-ever transplant of the head
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© ITAR-TASS Archive/Donat Sorokin

MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. Experiments involving transplantations of human heads give rise to grave bioethical problems, leaders of various Russian religious denominations said on Wednesday in a poll held by the Moscow-based radio Govorit Moskva.

Earlier on Wednesday, The Daily Mail said in a report that the Russian citizen Vladimir Spiridonov, a computer engineer from the city of Vladimir 200 km to the east of Moscow, who was suffering from the incurable Werdnig-Hoffman disease had given consent to the Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero for the world’s first-ever transplant of the head.

" […] you have to understand that I don't really have many choices," Vladimir Spiridonov said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Mail. "If I don't try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse."

"People who will find themselves in a body transplant will most obviously retain only a share of their original identity and they may even turn into entirely opposite identities," Vsevolod Chaplin, the chief of a department at the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said.

"The soul and the brain are not the same things," he said.

"It’s really difficult to speak about the retaining of human personality in a situation of this kind," said Andrey Balzhirov, the permanent representative of the traditional Buddhist Sangha or Russia in Moscow.

"Buddhism makes stress first and foremost on the functioning of consciousness," he said. "Will a person remain the same after a surgery like that one and what will happen to consciousness?"

He recalled that physicians had a great share of responsibility on their shoulders for such extreme experiments, along with the responsibility lying on those who subjected themselves to experimenting.

Ildar Alyautdinov, the imam of Moscow’s Metropolitan Mosque agreed with the opinion of other religious leaders.

"It’s very hard to figure out what will happen as a result," he said. "Islam has the notions of soul, heart and reason and all the three qualities of human personality are interlinked and here we’re offered to merge the different hypostases of different personalities."

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