Early research in the field suggests that head transplants are a real possibility in the near future. Right now, Dr. Xiaoping Ren is experimenting on mice and has been for years. He plans on experimenting on monkeys next, them I would guess apes after that. Humans would be the natural next step after apes. Nobody knows how long it will take before the advancing technology will be safe for human use, but it seems like a real possibility.
Head Transplants Are A Thing
It was inevitable. Somebody was going to start trying to transplant heads sooner or later. It’s undoubtedly a complex process, but what Dr. Xiaoping Ren’s pioneering spirit has shown us is that it’s possible. The mice have not lived long after the transplant, but they have been able to operate their new body to a certain extent. That means their brain is able to communicate with their new nervous system to execute movements. With a surgery like this, a lot could go wrong.
There are a lot of ethical concerns that can’t be ignored. The most obvious concern would be the high probability of death. A botched head transplant would end differently than a botched nose job (think Michael Jackson). You can live with a botched nose job, but you would not survive a mishandled head transplant. There would have to be some regulations put in place on who could be eligible for a transplant and who couldn’t. Even with regulations, people who were unhappy with their current body would fly to a country that doesn’t have strict regulations to get their new body. This would undoubtedly lead to a slew of deaths and lawsuits.
The next worry that comes to mind for me is, where would the doner-bodies come from? There’s already enough conspiriacy theories about people’s organs being harvested, do we really want to start putting people’s heads on fresh young bodies? There would be a lot of spit-back from all different directions.
Questions That Come To Mind
Would there be age requirements? Could a 90-year-old affluent male have his head put on an 18-year-old’s former body? Or would we start engineering bodies in laboratories? Could a male head be put on a female body or vice versa? Would this surgery be available to everybody or just the ultra-rich? Would insurance cover it? Would employers be forced to get insurance that covers it like they are with birth control?
I could go on forever with these questions but I think you get it. This is a new field that could be a great thing, but also has the potential for abuse. For people who suffer from paralysis, this could enhance their quality of life tenfold. For people who want a recreational body switcheroo, this could be a tragedy waiting to happen. I will keep a watchful eye on the technology as it develops, but I can promise you I won’t be standing in line anytime soon to test this technology out. It is scary and exciting at the same time. Science is advancing so fast that I can’t keep up with all the latest unthinkable achievements.