Transplants: We’re almost there!
SOME recent scientific innovations are holding up. For this, Scrutator is immensely happy. There is hope on the horizon. When a group of scientists from Stellenbosch University announced last December that they were about to conduct the world’s first ever penis transplant, I thought the world had gone bonkers. It was now coming to an end, I said to myself.
I could not possibly fathom how a man could have another’s manhood resettled on him and survive the vexing experience. Yes, the world has seen heart transplants, kidney transplants, liver transplants with a measure of success. In fact these kinds of transplants have almost become routine. But a penis transplant?
I did not think that was realistic. I have been proved wrong.
Led by Dr Andre van der Merwe of Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, a team of doctors performed the first successful penis transplant in the world on a 21-year-old South African patient who still cannot be named for ethical reasons. Apparently, the 21-year old is among the multitudes of those great unwashed, who believe in the outdated practice of traditional circumcision. Under this practice, boys get parts of their manhood removed without anesthetics under the false pretext that this marks their rite of passage into becoming real men.
Desperate to regain his manhood, the 21year old volunteered for the delicate process. Not much is known about the donor. It is believed it was a dying man not scared to go into his grave without his manhood, a taboo in most African countries.
The long and shot of it is that Dr Merwe’s team successfully attached a new penis to the young man in a 22-hour operation. The good news is that the young man’s girlfriend subsequently fell pregnant and has now given birth, confirming the penile transplant procedure as an unparalleled success. Many of you brothers who have your original penises but have failed to impregnate your wives or girlfriend must surely feel jealous of this young crooner. But don’t be discouraged. Keep trying.
The second achievement from the world of science this year came from a team of doctors in Texas, which also happens to be the home state of the world famous warlord, former US premier George W. Bush.
The Texan doctors have done the world’s first skull and scalp transplant to help a man with a large head wound from cancer treatment.
MD Anderson Cancer Center and Houston Methodist Hospital doctors did the operation on May 22 2015. The recipient of the skull and scalp transplant is Jim Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas, who had been left with an open head wound from radiation treatments.
The radiation treatments for a rare cancer had left Boysen with an open wound in his head that would not heal.
In 2006 Boysen was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer of the smooth muscle, on his scalp.
After chemotherapy and radiation, he was left with a large, deep wound on his head that included the scalp and the full thickness of his skull down to his brain. This had virtually put Boysen on a knife-edge. Imagine walking around without your skull and your brains exposed, floating all over you. It was a galling prospect until the Texan doctors got a new skull to transplant onto Boysen. Call it the beauty of science.
Please note that this transplant only involved the skull and scalp. That is the outer thick hard layer that protects the brain. It did not involve the brains and other matter inside the head.
Most victims of complicated transplants of this nature succumb after the operations. But Boysen is holding up. He is alive and well.
The success of these two delicate procedures has given renewed hope that sooner or later, we will soon have full head transplants involving the resettling of an entire head with all its brains and other inner matter onto another person.
An Italian neurosurgeon, Dr Sergio Canavero, has been busy working on plans to perform the world’s first human head transplant.
Valery Spiridonov, a Russian whose spinal muscular atrophy disease left him severely disabled, has volunteered to undergo the first head transplant. Under the procedure Dr Canavero will cut Spiridonov’s head and transplant it onto a healthy body to give the latter a new lease of life. Some doctors are skeptical and have dubbed Dr Canavero’s plans reckless. But Scrutator begs to differ.
After the good news about the penis and skull transplants, it’s high time head transplants were successfully done. I have written about this before and followers of this column will know why I am desperate for head transplants. This is the best sure way of ensuring progress and development for Africa, our Kingdom included.
My frustrations about the lack of progress and economic development in Africa are well documented. I will never hide my admiration of countries that have no natural resources like Singapore, Korea, Japan etc but that have nonetheless transformed into the world’s most prosperous.
Africa is the richest continent in terms of natural resources yet its people remain the poorest. Take for instance the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It commands the single most expansive mineral resource base of any country in the world yet its people drink water from the sea. We have one thing in common with our brothers and sisters from Kinshasa. We all squat over pit latrines despite living in our respective capitals.
We all know the problem of Africa. It’s mainly poor leadership and poor politics. Big men rule and poor policy propositions have combined to keep the continent as the perennial laggard.
As soon as the first head transplant succeeds, Africans ought to rise and demand that their politicians go to get new heads from brainy people from other regions who have successfully transformed their economies for the betterment of their people. That’s the surest way of fostering development on our blighted continent. I attended an African Union (AU) summit recently. When I attend these gatherings, I lose hope about the future of this continent. Instead of discussing seri- ous issues to transform the continent, the leaders got busy in assisting that terrorist scumbag, Omar Al Bashir, evade a South African High Court decision that he be arrested over his massacres of 400 000 plus hapless people in Darfur. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute and was obliged to nab Al Bashir but opted to forsake its international obligations. I am told Jacob Zuma, the host, danced and sang for his peers. They then feasted on lamb casserole and the finest wines and the summit closed with nothing of substance discussed to help this continent. Can we continue entrusting the future of this continent on these goofies? No.
Head transplants are the best way for Africa. I am very serious about this matter. Let’s consider a few examples. Imagine Barack Obama, after finishing his term of office and nearing the end of his life, agreeing to have his head cut and transplanted onto Thabo Thakalekoala.
Thakalekoala then becomes Prime Minister of Lesotho. Imagine how Lesotho would immediately command serious attention by having the most handsome leader in the world. Something that cannot be said if Thakalekoala became premier today. It’s an unwritten rule of politics that investors go to countries run by the most handsome men and women. Probably another reason why Africa has also failed to gain traction. Just imagine the serious reforms that would follow and the prosperity that would rain on our blighted Kingdom if Thakalekoala’s torso inherited Obama’s head. Barack Obama is a brainy leader. He inherited an America bankrupted by warlord Bush and within a short space of six years has restored Uncle Sam to all his glory. Unemployment is at its lowest and America has taken off again.
Imagine what would happen if German chancellor Angela Merkel’s head was transplanted or resettled on Mme Keketso Rantso’s large torso. Maybe Lesotho would then produce its own version of Mercedes Benz or BMW. Remember, Africa is the only continent in the world which has not invented its own automobile.
Imagine General Collin Powell’s head being transplanted onto our very own King Kamoli. Isn’t that the surest way of restoring the much wanted security stability in Lesotho.
Head transplants must not be confined to the politicians.
Imagine Bill Gates’s head being transplanted onto Engineer Mophato Monyake and Lesotho then inventing its own Microsoft? What a pity that Apple’s Steve Jobs died and went with his intelligent brains into the grave. If only head transplants had started then, his brains would have been desperately needed here. Steve Jobs had built Apple from being a minnow into a $300 billion dollar company. He died of pancreatic cancer. The rationale behind head transplants is that the brain is the last part of the body to die and one is only certified dead when they are brain dead. Most diseases that kill people occur from the neck downwards leaving a realistic chance of cutting off their heads for transplants.
After the successes with skull and penis transplants, I am surely hopeful of the head transplants. And to my less endowed sisters, we can also hope for vaginal transplants. Science is surely transforming the world. That’s the only reason I remain hopeful about the future of Africa. And of course Lesotho. Ache!!!
SURGEON Sergio Canavero plans to perform the first ever human head transplant.