Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Scientists Revived Dead Man's Head

Myth or reality: although the body is already dead, the head still stays alive
Nowadays, mankind understands that its requirements cannot be completely satisfied on the surface as it covers just one fifth of the planet. This makes people of the Earth penetrate into the sea depth that keep inexhaustible resources.

First steps in exploration of "the no sun world" have been already made. People create artificial algae plantations, pastures of fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Vast resources of manganese, iron and other minerals discovered in the ocean bottom will soon allow people build factories and plants on the continental shelf and to open mines there.
 
So, mankind is to explore the ocean depth thoroughly. Bt the human organism cannot function under water. Ikhtiander, the hero of the science-fiction novel The Amphibious Man by Alexander Belyayav could live under water only because a brilliant surgeon transplanted the shark gills to him. The invention of the author turned out to be so much attractive and believable that some people thought it was reality even at the end of the 1940s. Famous Soviet doctor F.Kopylov describes a curious fact in his book Stories About Surgeons.

A surgeon working in a remote part of the Soviet Union told that some village guy asked him to implant fish gills. Sharks could not be found in that part of the country and the man wanted to have cat-fish gills. The man was ready to endure any sufferings and stand any problems to have an opportunity to spend hours under water the same way the hero of the book by Alexander Belyayev did. The strange man even offered a receipt to the surgeon to state it was only the man's fault if he dies during the operation.

Until recently, operations of this kind have been impossible although medicine is highly developed today. Some time ago, the scientific world was shocked with a sensational statement. Another stunning operation was held in Cape Town, in the clinic that was once headed by K.Bernard and where human heart transplantation was successfully performed. 

A black young man suffering from pulmonary deficiency, the result of neglected tuberculosis, was transplanted shark gills. The patient refused to have a transplanted lung for the following reason. First, he said he had no money to pay for the donor organ and for the operation. At the same time, he was offered the gills transplantation for free, at the expense of the scientific fund. Second, the guy was disappointed with his life on the surface and wanted to start everything from very beginning under water. The operation was a success. Doctors are closely watching if the transplanted organ operates well or not and prevent probable separation with special medicines.

If the above mentioned information is not a canard, a real amphibian man will be soon swimming in the ocean. Remember another novel by Alexander Belyayev, Professor Dowell's Head. Scientist Dowell created solution that allowed a human head live separately from the body. The hero of the book is sure that the invention will be of use for people. But educated readers may say this is nonsense. However, one should not be that categorical.

In 1902, famous Russian physiologist A.Kulebyako successfully performed reanimation of a child's heart (being taken away from a dead body, the heart continued functioning outside the organism within several hours). Further, the scientist decided to reanimate a human head.

First, the experiment was performed on a fish head. Special liquid, blood substitute, was brought to the head along blood vessels. The experiment brought astonishing results: the fish head moved the eyes and the fins, it opened and closed the mouth which proved that the head was still alive.

In 1928, physiologists S.Bryukhonenko and S.Chechulin demonstrated a living head of a haematherm, a dog. The dog head was rather active when connected up to a pump oxygenator. When a tampon with acid was put on the tongue of the dog head it made attempts to throw it away; but when a slice of sausage was put in the dog mouth, the dog head licked the lips. The dog eyes winked when felt the puff of air.

In 1959, Professor V.Demikhov also conducted several experiments with dog heads. The professor was absolutely sure that similar experiments allowed to sustain life in a human head as well.

Have similar experiments ever been performed on a human head? This issue is inevitably connected with moral and serious social problems that doctors may face if they decide to transplant the head of one man to the body of another. Information of this sort is always particularly classified.

In the mid-1970s, the press reported a sensational statement. Two neurosurgeons from Germany Walner Kraiter and Henry Courige managed to sustain life in an amputated human head within 20 days. A 40-year-old man was taken to the hospital after a traffic accident. The man's life could not be saved as his head was almost completely cut off the body.

Under those conditions, the neurosurgeons decided to maintain life in the brain of the victim. A life-support system was connected up to the head; the system managed to maintain the brain activity for about three weeks although the body of the man was already dead. What is more, this may sound shocking but the doctors got into contact with the head. The head could not speak as it had no throat, but the doctors could read its lips and saw that the head realized everything that happened to it.

Doctor Truman Doughty from Philadelphia performed an incredible experiment. In 1989, it turned out that his wife suffered from cancer. The tragic news encouraged the doctor to develop a life-support system. The disease grew progressively worse, and the doctor lost every hope for salvation of his wife. At that very period he decided to save the head.

The operation lasted for about six hours. Doctor Doughty knew perfectly well he could be charged with murder. The doctor ran an incredible risk, but as it turned out later he risked not in vain. The incredible experiment resulted in triumph. The doctor's wife did not doubt as to the necessity of the operation and gave her consent. For several years, Truman kept secret that the head of his wife was still alive. It was just recently that the world has learnt of the incredible experiment. Doctor Doughty says that his wife's head can even speak with the help of a special device. The plausibility of the above mentioned facts cannot be verified, but it is clear that scientific ideas that Alexander Belyayev stated in his books have become the reality.

Alexander Potapov
Kontinent

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