Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts, odd sightings or just the plain unexplainable.
This week: Scientific Wonders/Strange Facts
The thought of head transplants has been alive for decades in realm of sci-fi. Usually the subject of such an operation would end up as an horrible abomination out to destroy mankind. Sometimes the subject of the operation ends up with his head on a Chihuahua like Pierce Brosnan and/or Sarah Jessica Parker in Mars Attacks! Most inconvenient.
What may surprise many is that no less than two successful head transplants have taken place – albeit on monkeys instead of humans. We've got video to prove it.
A while back we told you all about Vladimir Demikhov, a Russian scientist who kept a dog's head alive without a body, and is a second experiment he actually sewed the head and front paws of a puppy onto the shoulder of an adult dog – creating a two headed K-9.
Well as we've read it Demikhov's chief rival was an American doctor named Robert J White. White didn't work with dogs as much – he preferred monkeys. On two occasions he successfully transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another. The first lived for only a few hours, the second for multiple days. As BBC News put it in a 2001 article:
"Professor Robert White, from Cleveland Ohio, transplanted a whole monkey's head onto another monkey's body, and the animal survived for some time after the operation."
The operation was so successful that once awake, the first transplant subject even tried to bite a doctor. It could breath, see, blink, taste and smell – pretty much anything any other monkey could do as far as head-senses go. But its tree swinging days were definitely over.
Although White could reattach the circulatory system, the spinal column was effed. The Monkey was paralysed from the neck down because nobody currently knows how to reattach nerves. That sounds terrible, doesn't it? What good is a head transplant to save you from your dying body if your new body is paralysed? Surely it would be just as good to be kept alive in one of those Futurama jars.
White thinks it's definitely worth it. These are some of his thoughts on the matter:
"People are dying today who, if they had body transplants, in the spinal injury community would remain alive."
Is the post-op paralysis aspect a good trade? People have already thought about that plenty – like people on Wikipedia for instance:
"If one is paralysed already and has these illnesses, then nothing much would really change when the head is transplanted. If one is not paralysed, then one would have to decide whether to live paralysed until a cure for paralysis can be developed, or to die of one's affliction."
Paralysed body to paralysed body doesn't sound too bad, right? Well if you're feeling up to it, White is retired – but he has left a standing offer to do this procedure on a human volunteer. Being the first human head transplant is really something to think about. Seriously – if you volunteer your head for this kind of op, you'd be in every single medical book from here until the end of time. Think of the fame! Think of all those medical students flipping past your picture!
That's worth your walking, right? maybe the video will convince you.