I surprised myself with how much I had written about Sergio Canavero, the quack who wants to do a human head transplant. His technique is to chop the head off one body, and the body off one head, and fuse them together by slathering the stumps with ethylene glycol, a substance that dissolves cell membranes and encourages fusion. It won’t work. It can’t work. He’s been working with rats, getting improbable results that he spins into great triumphs, but no one believes him. The whole experiment is dangerous and unethical, and at best what he was going to end up with is a severed head perfused with blood from a disconnected heart. It was going to be a nightmare scenario for his patient/victim.
But he had a volunteer. A young man, Valery Spiridonov, with a serious genetic degenerative disorder that was going to gradually shut down his entire muscular system was willing to take a desperate gamble and undergo Canavero’s horrible procedure. It wasn’t going to help, only make his condition abruptly worse, but hey, he was going to take a risk for a miracle. But now something has changed, and he has withdrawn from the experiment. No, his disease wasn’t cured, and there’s still no hope for him.
Instead, Spiridonov found love.
In late 2017, Spiridonov married computer expert Anastasia Panfilova, and the couple now shares a 5-month-old son who doesn’t appear to have inherited the disease, he explained to Good Morning Britain.
“I cannot leave them without my attention, even for a few months,” he said of the time he would be away from his family if he were to go through with the operation.
Yes! Canavero was actively neglecting the human side of the equation, but Spiridonov went on living his life, despite a seriously disabling condition, and found someone he cared about and a new reason to persevere. He might be doomed, but in the face of inevitable decline he found something else to hope for.
Now Canavero is going to have to find a new guinea pig. I hope he doesn’t.