Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers – Factoid #5

Alright… no bugs, parasites or cannibalism today… Today’s factoid is something straight out of science fiction.

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Can a head live without a body?

In 1988, the U.S. government granted a patent for a device that would keep a severed head alive after being surgically removed from the body. The device has never been used, so it is uncertain how effective it would be. However, the creator of the device has been contacted by a number of people who want to know how soon the operation will be available and how much it will cost. Some of these people are dying or paralyzed, and many of them say that they would welcome the operation, if it meant that their minds would remain clear and they could still think, see, read, remember, talk, and listen.

The proposed procedure would involve attaching the decapitated head to a device essentially consisting of a series of plastic tubes. These tubes would be connected to the bottom of the head and neck and would provide oxygen and fluids, as well as maintaining blood circulation, to keep the head alive.

In 1973, an American brain surgeon called Dr. Robert White carried out the world’s first head transplant, using two monkeys. He decapitated both animals and successfully managed to stitch the head of one monkey onto the body of the other. The “hybrid” monkey regained consciousness, opened its eyes, and tried to bite a surgeon who put a finger in its mouth. It also ate, and it could follow people around the room with its eyes. However, the monkey was paralyzed from the neck down because its spinal cord had been severed, and it was impossible for the surgeons to reconnect the numerous nerves necessary for it to regain any bodily movement. The monkey survived for about seven days after the transplant.

White claimed that this surgery could benefit parapalegics, who may die as a result of the long-term medical complications that often accompany extensice paralysis. He believed that if these people were to receive new bodies, donated by patiens who were brain dead but otherwise physically healthy, it would give them a new chance of life, even though they would remain parapalegic.

There are some really strange video out there that demonstrate the mind-bending ability the brain has to survive. One video shows a dog’s head revived and responding to stimulus. The monkey vid’s on out there, as well, but the one I saw on YouTube had one of those “scream scenes” in it so be careful.

When I read this segment, my mind immediately went to Sarah Jessica Parker’s head on the body of her character’s pet chihauhau in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (great movie if you haven’t seen it)

This post is part of the Boogers and Book Bucks Giveaway. Don’t forget to enter at the original post for your official entry. Comments here count as a bonus entry 😀

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8 Responses

  1. I saw something about this awhile back on Monster Quest… it creeped me out more than anything else I’ve seen on that show! And I didn’t want my kids to watch either… even though I let them watch all the stuff about the monsters!

  2. Wow, creepy! All the same, such an invention would make sense for people who are paralyzed already, but it weirds me out.

  3. This is a bit freaky. I don’t know how I would react to someone if they were like this and I doubt I could live like that, but I suppose it is sort of interesting.

    and yay for no bugs or nasty things!

    -Lauren

  4. Lol … yes Mars Attack was great fun!!
    Seriously though, I personally would never choose to live as a “head in a jar” – I think the psychological impact would be too much to bear.

  5. Okay, I’m intrigued more than grossed out, which is saying something after this week of factoid goodness. 🙂

    Think of the possibilities. You could live (and read) forever!

  6. oh gosh, that would be hard to bear. i couldn’t do it and it would be odd to be around someone who had something like this….it a bit hard to not be obvious about it i suppose. i mean if it helps and people would like it, that’s great.

    Lauren

  7. LOL! When I started to read this article, I immediately thought of Mars Attack, and you mentioned it too 🙂

  8. why people dont just stick with cryogenics like Walt Disney and the Duke, i cant understand.

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