His entire head will be transplanted on a different body in a 36-hour procedure involving 150 doctors and nurses.
The man suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy which leads to profound symmetrical weakness and wasting of voluntary muscle. He is willing to take a risk on this very experimental surgery because of his rapidly declining health.
The head contains our brain, so it must hold our intelligence. But what of the heart? 'Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye'. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Queen Elizabeth 1, said something like, “I may have the frail body of a woman, but I have the heart and the stomach of a man.” Not sure the stomach contains much thought—maybe courage—I know it gets shaky when a person is faced with danger.
Most of us would give up and let nature take its course with something so severe. Of course, we have the example of Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is wheelchair-bound due to motor neurone disease and even relies on a machine to speak.
Should people go to any length to prolong their lives?
A head transplant was performed on a defenseless monkey 45 years ago in 1970. The poor animal lived for eight days. The body rejected the new head and the monkey could not breathe and was unable to move because the spinal cord of the head and body were not connected properly.
I can't imagine anything worse. But then, I'm not a genius scientist with many more years to give to the human race.
It's all very well to say, “Let nature take it's course.” But, we don't do that in any other case. At the first sign of a medical problem, we make an appointment to see our doctor, hoping for a cure to set us back on our feet. In my younger days, I went through four hip replacement procedures at various times. While they worked as a temporary measure so I could continue working, in the long run, my artificial hips have caused more harm than good. One operation resulted in a shattered femur, which has left me with a limping gait.
At my age, I'm prepared to put up with a lack of perfection. I don't expect to live forever.
My brother-in-law who suffered from a blood disease, elected to take experimental drugs to prolong his life. They didn't work. At the moment, my husband is undergoing various forms of treatment—cuts here, samples there, injections and tablets—in an effort to stop cancer killing him.
What lengths would you go to to prolong your life?