The Head Transplant-Accelerating towards a Medical Future!


It is often bewildering to realize that ever since the dawn of life on the blue planet,  Man looked up into the night sky  and wondered dreamily at the marvels of the universe and the cosmos as a whole  before looking down at his own out-of-the-world paraphernalia—and perhaps God’s greatest engineering feat—The Human Body.

It is said that there are more neural connections within our cerebral apparatus than all the stars in several galaxies of the universe, demonstrating a single example from the countless instances that have proven our astounding bodily capabilities over the seemingly- incomprehensible celestial phenomena. When Man did speculate this wondrous creation, a new realm of human sagacity came into being—-the ever-expanding field of Medicine.

It has been more than 200,000 years since the momentous conceptualization of medical sciences by early Man and we have come a long way from that point. From the microscopic level  of cells that form the squamous epithelium lining of our tongue  to organs as complex and colossal as the human liver or from the birth of the first surgical treatment to performing minimal access surgeries with a robotic hand in ease, there appears to be nothing that modern-day medicine has not accomplished and mastered in the body’s anatomy and physiology. Or, is there?

How will you respond if I told you that you suffer from a critical stage of a cancer and that the only way to prevent the cancerous cells from reaching your brain was by removing your head and placing it in a new, disease-free body? Yes, you read it right. A head. While this may sound as though I am out of my senses a decade ago, a few surgeons would beg to differ and would, as-a-matter-of-fact, find this very much valid and apt in this day and age. In Johannesberg, South Africa, a team of surgeons successfully operated on Paul Horner, a 36-year-old man who bravely fought an uphill battle with bone cancer for five long years and was on the brink of life and death when he was approved for the controversial and potentially fatal surgery. The miraculous surgery lasted for a staggering nineteen hours. On the day of the surgery, the entire world waited with baited breath for the news—a news that could either dynamically alter human  history and our comprehension of medical science so far or could culminate into a horrendous mishap.  The path-breaking medical triumph however shook the world or as Doctor Tom Downey, a surgeon in the team, put it “The success of this operation leads to infinite possibilities”. As pointed out by further research in this medical development, since the transplant entails the grafting of the head (cephalic end) to the a fresh, healthy and metabolically-active body, the reforming of connections of the patient’s brain with the new body’s nerve centers is a complex and equally precarious process, something that very few surgeons perfect only after a matter of time and experience.

However, the medical world’s wonders do not terminate here, they instead commence at this new benchmark of technical know-how to stretch out into the far reaches of science fiction and human imagination, from automated genetic selection to DNA-redesigned immortality, all in a not-so-distant future. Most preeminent of all, the very crux of medical sciences lies in this pursuit to produce possessors of knowledge that see no end or satiation to their hunger for more-More wonder, more profundity and a greater cognizance for a bodily pulchritude too little understood and appreciated.

Manav Jha is a student of standard 11, Delhi Private School-UAE. Founder President of WE CARE- Non Profit Organisation and UAE Ambassador for Tunza Eco-Generation.

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