For many this may be redundant, but it bares to be repeated. Frankenstein is not the name of the giant monster you see with plugs emerging from his neck on every Halloween decoration. That’s actually Frankenstein’s monster — Dr. Frankenstein is the person that created the abomination. Therefore when you reference that something looks like Frankenstein, you’re really referring to this dude — who looks surprisingly like Matt Horwich. So the follow-up film ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ has somewhat of a senseless title, but it was brushed off because the actual ‘bride’ was played by Valerie Hobson, and no one complained when she was on screen back in the day.
Now according to an Italian neurosurgeon, humanity is ready for head transplants, and it will only set you back a cool $15,000,000.
Dr. Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has created an invasive medical surgery that will enable human heads to be transplanted on the body of other human recipients. Apparently Canavero was inspired by the work of Robert White who developed a procedure to transplant the head of a rhesus monkey on the body of another one. The surgery actually worked and the monkey survived for eight days. There’s YouTube video of this bizarre procedure, and we’re not going to publish it on MiddleEasy because it’s just that weird. According to Canavero, the line of surgery was abandoned because the technology didn’t exist to reconnect the spinal cord — but it looks like Canavero has it all figured out.
In order to successfully transplant a human head, the body (and head) must undergo hypothermia through the use of ‘cooling helmets and suits’ that are commercially available. Most of Dr. Sergio Canavero’s work (which he coined as ‘HEAVEN’) is based off the 1970 procedure by Robert White, however Canavero does go into the potential ethical problems of, well, having someone’s head attached to your body.
I have not addressed the ethical aspects of HEAVEN. In Thomas Mann’s “‘The Transposed Heads,” two friends, the intellectual Shridaman and the earthy Nanda, behead themselves. Magically, their severed heads are restored – but to the wrong body, and Shridaman’s wife, Sita, is unable to decide which combination represents her real husband. The story is further complicated by the fact that Sita happens to be in love with both men. This short story highlights the ethical dilemma that must be faced: The HEAVEN created “chimera” would carry the mind of the recipient but, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor.
However, it is equally clear that horrible conditions without a hint of hope of improvement cannot be relegated to the dark corner of medicine. This paper lays out the groundwork for the first successful human head transplant.
This is the future we all live in — and it’s still absolutely nothing without hoverboards and flying cars. Feel free to read more of Dr. Sergio Canavero’s work here.