World’s first head transplant patient schedules procedure for 2017

A man set to become the world’s first head
transplant patient has scheduled the
procedure for December 2017. 30 year old
Valery Spiridonov was diagnosed with a
genetic muscle-wasting condition called
Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, and volunteered
for the procedure despite the risks involved,
Central European News (CEN) reported.
“When I realized that I could
participate in something really big and
important, I had no doubt left in my
mind and started to work in this
direction,” Spiridonov, a Russian
computer scientist, told CEN. “The only
thing I feel is the sense of pleasant
impatience, like I have been preparing
for something important all my life
and it is starting to happen.”
Dr. Sergio Canavero, an Italian
neurosurgeon, will perform the procedure
on Spiridonov. The procedure is expected to
last up to 36 hours, and it will require
Spiridonov’s head to be cooled as well as the
donor’s body to extend the period during
which the cells can survive without oxygen.
“According to Canavero’s calculations,
if everything goes to plan, two years is
the time frame needed to verify all
scientific calculations and plan the
procedure’s details,” Spiridonov. “It
isn’t a race. No doubt, the surgery will
be done once the doctor and the
experts are 99 percent sure of its
success.”
Spiridonov joked that first thing he plans to
do after the procedure is go on a vacation.
“But on a serious note, this operation
is aimed at restoring independence of
severely disabled people. Once I get it
back I’ll see what the life of a healthier
person looks like,” he said.
According to the freed medical dictionary:
Werdnig-Hoffmann disease is a genetic
disorder beginning in infancy or young
childhood, characterized by progressive
atrophy of the skeletal muscle resulting
from degeneration of the cells in the
anterior horn of the spinal cord and the
motor nuclei in the brainstem.
Onset occurs within the first year of life, with
the condition usually apparent at birth.
Symptoms include congenital hypotonia;
absence of stretch reflexes; flaccid paralysis,
especially of the trunk and limbs; lack of
sucking ability; fasciculations of the tongue
and sometimes of other muscles; and often,
dysphagia. Treatment is symptomatic, and
death generally occurs in early childhood,
often from respiratory complications.
The condition is transmitted as an
autosomal-recessive trait and occurs more
frequently in siblings than in successive
generations.

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