A man who was set to have the world’s first head transplant has cancelled his surgery after falling in love.
33-year-old Valery Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a form of spinal muscular atrophy which often leads to low life expectancy.
The computer expert had been working for two years with Dr Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon who has been nicknamed ‘Dr Frankenstein’ for his interest in the futuristic surgery, which would see the patient’s neck severed and their head reattached to a new body.
Valery became famous for his readiness to be decapitated in the name of science and explained his willingness to Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, as reported in the Mirror.
The 33-year-old explained:
I understood that it was a great risk, that it had never been done before.
But what did I have to lose? I could not lose just a tiny chance to walk normally.
However before the surgery Valery met and fell in love with Anastasia Panfilova. The pair married in Moscow and recently welcomed their baby son into the world.
Speaking of his relationship, the computer expert said:
We lived in the same city, and often met on professional matters and soon realised that we felt really good together.
She has several degrees. We got married a little over one year ago in Moscow.
The couple’s baby boy did not inherit his father’s disease, something which Valery described as a ‘miracle’.
With his new family to love and care for, the father cancelled his surgery with Dr Canavero and has since moved to America with his wife and son, where he is studying the computer analysis of emotions at the University of Florida.
After losing his keen decapitation patient, the doctor turned to Chinese volunteers. Dr Canavero has received funding for his research in China, but Valery is encouraging the doctor to come clean on his work there amid a suspicion the Italian encountered problems with his techniques.
Valery told Komsomolskaya Pravda:
I do not regret it that Canavero did not reach the final goal – or did reach it, and failed. This was just a normal working process.
The only thing we lack from him is more publicity.
Everybody would have benefited from information what went wrong in China and why. I don’t have such information today and it does not help the further research.
I do hope Canavero will publish it in detail one day.
Though he turned down the opportunity for a new body, the computer expert admitted he didn’t regret his research with the Italian doctor.
I feel a weight lifted off my chest. I never had a vain motive to become the first.
I gave two years of my life to this project. I will be glad to see it happening [with someone else].
I am deeply grateful to Canavero.
Thanks to our joint efforts, a lot is changing for the better, and for me too.
While the success of the surgery would certainly be impressive, I’m not sure I’d want to be the first one on Dr Canavero’s decapitation table!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.