Brain Transplant: Is it Feasible and Achievable?

In his quest of knowledge, mankind has been pushing the limits further and further. With scientific breakthroughs bestowing you with the unimaginable and the impossible, it is not long before brain transplantation becomes a common phenomenon. In what was till date regarded as a mission impossible, extensive research and experiments are being zealously carried out to achieve the ultimate medical miracle.


In layman’s terms, brain transplant is nothing but transferring the brain of one individual into the body of another. Amusingly, there has always been a debate on whether it should be called brain transplantation or body transplantation. Nevertheless, this whole idea has not yet taken shape due to the inability of the scarred nerve cells to heal properly thereby hampering smooth and accurate signal transmissions. Besides, the interface with the spinal chord challenges the feasibility of the whole process as the nerves may not really match. In other words, transplantation might cause the nerve endings controlling one part to connect to the nerve ending controlling some other part resulting in utter chaos and lack of synchrony.


The key lies in preserving the memory and the identity of the individual without which the whole process is simply futile. A more realistic scenario would be partial brain transplant where a certain section, maybe a lobe is all that is transplanted. In the past ,experiments have been successfully conducted on mice. Dr. Robert J. White from Ohio has already performed countless successful head transfer experiments on monkeys. He claims to have devised methods by which the human brain can be isolated from its blood supply and kept alive for a very short duration and with rapid scientific developments in spinal chord functioning, brain transplant is not a far off fairytale anymore. Also, there are some articles which continually refer to brain as an ‘immunologically privileged place’ thereby hinting at the independent functioning and possibilities of transplantation.


The most enthralling aspect of this process would be how mankind would morph into the class of immortals. Let’s say the first transplant was conducted on one individual with a healthy brain but suffering from cancer and another one on a near dead brain but in a healthy body. The two brains were fused together till the healthier brain monopolistically pre-dominated in the healthier body. So, we now have a healthy strong individual instead of two weak ones. Continuing in this manner and following Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory, we get a brand new species of mankind virtually immortal and disease-free.


This immediately leads to the larger debate; about the ethicality concerning the issue, the bioethics. In my opinion, it is nothing less than a grotesque breach of ethics and a perilous play with nature. It puts to question the whole meaning of life and morality. Science claims but never guarantees. Merging of personalities, ages, swapping of sexes is certainly not a child’s play. Man is blindfolded by the lure of science and cannot foresee the consequent disaster that awaits him. What he is forgetting is that the most beautiful gift a man has is living his life…it cannot be relived with the same charisma. Challenging God’s gift will lead to nowhere sans major catastrophe.


Yashi Trivedi

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