There are few news items now that can pierce the mind-numbing miasma emanating from the run for the presidential nomination. In spite of this, Life in the Boomer Lane found her brain cells standing (albeit gingerly) at attention (albeit with as much attention as one with ADD can muster) to see the following:
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero says he plans to attempt the first human head transplant late next year. For those of you who are reading this blog while driving, or during a business meeting, or in the recovery room after major surgery, please stop now and wait until you can give it your undivided (no pun intended) attention. We are talking about HEAD TRANSPLANTATION, folks.
During the procedure, estimated to last about 36 hours, the patient's (someone has already been slated to have the surgery performed on him) head will be cooled to around 12 degrees Celsius, cut from his body and, as quickly as possible, connected to a donated body of a brain-dead person. Canavero will be assisted by a team of 100 surgeons and other medical staff, including some who have experience in head transplants on animals. LBL will refrain, here, from making a seriously tasteless reference to what happened to the guy in "The Fly," whose own head transplantation didn't go so well.
After surgery, the patient will be kept in an artificially induced coma for 3 to 4 weeks while doctors stimulate his spinal cord nerves to reconnect and start functioning. Canavero speculates that his patient, paralyzed since birth with a severe neurological disorder, will be able to walk in about a year.
LBL is well aware that the prospect of head transplantation would only be considered in the most extreme circumstances, involving major disability and a greatly incapacitated life. While LBL is extremely respectful of this, she is also the author of a mindless humor blog, and so will now leave such serious considerations behind and plow ahead with what she knows best.
The prospect of a head transplant brings up many questions and areas of consideration for LBL. The main one is, "What inspired this surgeon to do such surgery?" Newsweek has the answer to that one. "At age 9, (Canavero) bought Issue 51 of Marvel Team-Up, in which Dr. Strange boasts to Spider-Man and Iron Man, 'I myself have surgically rejoined severed neurolinkages.... The nerve endings have been fused, the healing process begun.'
LBL's two sons also read Spiderman and Ironman comics. Unlike Canavero, they were not then inspired to become surgeons and perform head transplants in later life. Instead, they put on homemade capes, destroyed a handheld electric mixer and severed part of the dog's tail.
LBL has her own #1 question. It is "Could I please get the head of someone who has straight hair?" This is not a question LBL asks publicly. She has her reputation to uphold, as a brilliant, deep thinker. Instead, she asks things like "Is this procedure moral and ethical?" or "If one did something really heinous after the transplant, could one blame it on the new head?" Even without answers, either of these would make swell TV show pilots.
Also, LBL has searched in vain, but she can't find the answer to the following: If the brain that's used comes from a deceased person, then it's a dead brain, right? How does it come alive again? How can a dead person have a live brain? Is LBL missing some essential fact that she should have learned by age 16, around the same time she learned that the word "bitch" referred only to a female?
Because LBL cares deeply about the opinions of her readers, as long as they don't get carried away with their own inflated sense of their comedic abilities, she asks the following: If you were a candidate for a head transplant,
Whose head would you choose?
Would you accept a head who had different political affiliations and food tastes?
Would you choose a head that had no sense of humor or fashion?
What if the only available head belonged to Kim Il Sung?
If given the option, would you bypass head transplantation and go for body transplantation, instead?
Of course, as always, the most important question is, What does this mean for boomers? The answer is simple: eternal youth. At age 60, one could trade in one's head for a newer model, complete with younger brain cells, an absence of cataracts, and the ability to recognize all those people who are nominated for Grammys.
The downside would be that your young brain would be telling you to do things that your aging body wasn't equipped to do. You would want to go rollerblading, wear stiletto heels, and stay out all night drinking. Your arthritic joints, lack of balance and aging intestinal system would then all implode.
A second issue would be how darn silly you would look with a 30-year-old head on a 60-year-old body. Your brain would tell you to buy that bikini, completely oblivious to the fact that your body would then look like Silly Putty on the beach. You'd get thousands of guys writing to you on Match.com, who would then shake your hand when meeting you, fabricate a reason to go to the men's room, and would never be seen again. And, even before you got to that first date, you'd have to decide which age category you should be in.
Clearly, it all seems like too much trouble. It's probably easier to wear a turtleneck, a big hat, and sunglasses. And never watch The Grammys with a young person.