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Head transplant volunteer seeks to prove operation's possibility

June 09, 2015, 14:49 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG
Russian programmer Valery Spiridonov is candidate for the $10 million procedure planned by Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero
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Valery Spiridonov

Valery Spiridonov

© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

YEKATERINBURG, June 9. /TASS/. Russian programmer Valery Spiridonov, volunteering for history's first-ever head transplant surgery, will address a neurosurgeons' conference in the United States in a bid to prove the operation is possible.

Spiridonov is candidate for the $10 million procedure planned by Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero. "I will attend the conference to take part in the presentation of Dr. Canavero's technique," Spiridonov told TASS on Tuesday.

"This conference is very important as we are planning to convince the world scientific community that the operation is for real," he said.

"If the presentation is successful, we will be able to overcome bureaucratic problems," said Spiridonov, suffering from genetic muscular atrophy and confined to a wheelchair for life. The conference takes place in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 12.

Canavero has announced plans to build on experience of American neurosurgeon Robert J. White, known for head transplants on living monkeys. But leading Russian surgeon Anzor Khubutia last week dismissed Canavero's plans as "reckless".

"It may be real in the future," Khubutia said. "But it's hard to talk about head transplantation before spine regeneration becomes possible."

Academician Sergei Gotye, Russian Health Ministry chief transplantologist, said that "a head could be transplanted so it can wink and even open its mouth."

"I have no answer to the question of how to make the [transplanted] head control the donor body. And I am not sure Canavero has," he added.

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