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First-Ever Human Head Transplant Preps With A Virtual Reality Box

Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, is bound and determined to go through with plans to perform the world’s first-ever human head transplant. Canavero says that technological advances in re-connecting severely injured spinal cords have opened boundless possibilities, including full head transplants.

Canavero’s patient, Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old man who has muscular atrophy, is now spending time inside a virtual reality machine so that he can get used to his new body, Nature World News reports.

Many in the scientific community remain highly skeptical of Canavero’s claims, more so since he intens to perform the procedure in the next 12 months. The doctor does have supporters, though. Dr. Ren Ziaoping of Harbin Medical University, who is also known for his willingness to take extreme risks in medicine, has agreed to help Canavero.

If the 36-hour operation proves successful, the patient is still subject to “unexpected psychological reactions” as he adjusts. Canavero’s solution is to provide a virtual reality world so that Spiridonov can acclimate to the changes and to his new body. A VR system will train the patient to prepare him.

The system was presented during the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow conference in Scotland last week. Canavero said,

This virtual reality system prepares the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body.

Created by Chicago-based tech company Inventum Bioengineering Technologies, the system was designed to help head transplant patients adjust to seeing someone else’s body on theirs. Alexander Pavlovcik, Inventum chief executive, explained that patients would need to undergo several sessions before surgery. He said, “In preparing the patient of Heaven (Head Anastomosis Venture) to transition into a new body, virtual reality training will be used before the surgical procedure to prevent the occurrence of unexpected psychological reactions.”

Spiridonov is optimistic that all will go well. He said, “Virtual reality simulations are extremely important as this kind of systems allow to get involved into action and learn fast and efficiently. As a computer scientist I am extremely certain that it is an essential technology for the Heaven project.”

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