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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1263000/1263758.stm Friday, 6 April, 2001, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK Frankenstein fears after head transplant A new
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1263000/1263758.stm

      Friday, 6 April, 2001, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
      Frankenstein fears after head transplant

      A new brain could be available in the future
      <http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1260000/images/_1263758_whole_brain300.jp
      g>

      A new brain could be available in the future

      A controversial operation to transplant the whole head of a monkey onto
      a different body has proved a partial success.

      The scientist behind it wants to do the same thing to humans, but other
      members of the scientific community have condemned the experiments as
      "grotesque".


      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 professor told the BBC's Today programme how he believes the
      operation is the next step in the transplant world.


      And he raised the possibility that it could be used to treat people
      paralysed and unable to use their limbs, and whose bodies, rather than
      their brains, were diseased.


      "People are dying today who, if they had body transplants, in the spinal
      injury community would remain alive."


      He said that in the experiment, his team had been able to: "transplant
      the brain as a separate organ into an intact animal and maintain it in a
      viable, or living situation for many days."


      He added: "We've been able to retain the brain in the skull, and in the
      head."


      That, he said meant the monkey was conscious, and that it could see,
      hear, taste and smell because the nerves were left intact in the head.


      He admitted that it could appear "grotesque", but said there had been
      ethical considerations throughout the history of organ transplants.


      "At each stage - kidney, heart, liver and so forth - ethical
      considerations have been considered, especially with the heart, which
      was a major, major problem for many people and scientists.


      "And the brain, because of its uniqueness poses a major, major ethical
      issue as far as the public and even the profession is concerned."


      'Scientifically misleading'


      The arguments against head and brain transplants were outlined by Dr
      Stephen Rose, director of brain and behavioural research at the Open
      University.


      He said: "This is medical technology run completely mad and out of all
      proportion to what's needed.


      "It's entirely misleading to suggest that a head transplant or a brain
      transplant is actually really still connected in anything except in
      terms of blood stream to the body to which it has been transplanted.


      "It's not controlling or relating to that body in any other sort of
      way."


      He added: "It's scientifically misleading, technically irrelevant and
      scientifically irrelevant, and apart from anything else a grotesque
      breach of any ethical consideration."


      "It's a mystification to call it either a head transplant or a brain
      transplant.


      "All you're doing is keeping a severed head alive in terms of the
      circulation from another animal. It's not connected in any nervous
      sense."


      The issue of who someone who had received a head transplant would "be"
      is extremely complicated, said Professor Rose.


      "Your person is largely embodied but not entirely in your brain".


      He added: "I cannot see any medical grounds for doing this. I cannot see
      that scientifically you would actually be able to regenerate the nerves
      which could produce that sort of control.


      "And I think that the experiments are the sort that are wholly unethical
      and inappropriate for any possible reason."


      He added that the way to help the quadriplegic community was to work on
      research to help spinal nerves regenerate.
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