In Russia Science is getting one step closer to seeing its first head transplant

Two surgeons have volunteered to do the world's first head transplant, and have found a willing patient from Russia.

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Two surgeons have volunteered to do the world's first head transplant, and have found a willing patient from Russia.

Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero says Russia may be the first country to perform a human head transplant to save a man with a degenerative disease.

The Washington Post reports Russian Valery Spiridonov has Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a genetic disorder that wastes muscles and motor neurons, a diease which is usually fatal.

The surgeons who plan to do the surgery are Xiaoping Ren from China was part on the US team that performed the first successful hand transplant and Italian Sergio Canavero who in 2013, announced he wanted to try to transplant a human head.

In a story in US publication the Atlantic quotes Canavero as saying the transplant could happen as early as 2017 and has a "90 per cent plus" chance of success. If it does take place, it would require 80 surgeons and cost tens of millions of dollars.

One of the biggest issues with trying to perform a head transplant is rejoining the spinal cord.

According to Live Science, Canavero would have to first sever the spinal cords of both the recipient (who has a diseased body but an otherwise healthy head and brain) and a donor (who would likely be a brain-dead person, with an otherwise healthy body).

He would then fuse the recipient head and donor body together, essentially giving the head a new body to control and inhabit.

Canavero said he has wanted to do a head transplant since he was a teenager and read about an American surgeon who transplanted the head of one monkey onto another monkey's body in 1970. The monkey ended up paralyzed from the neck down but was able to hear, smell, taste and move its eyes, however, it died nine days later because its immune system rejected the "foreign" head.

Canavero's planned surgery has been met with criticism across the world.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a professor of reconstructive plastic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City told Live Sciene he did not think the procedure was possible.

Rodriguez performed the world's most complete facial transplant in 2012.

"I think it's ludicrously stupid," Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist, also at NYU told Live Science.

"You'd probably be charged with homicide if you chop somebody's head off before they're dead."

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