A Russian man who volunteered to have the world’s first ever head transplant has instead had a change of heart after finding himself head-over-heels in love with his glamorous new wife and their “miracle” baby son.
Severely handicapped Valery Spiridonov, 33, was ready to have his neck severed by Italian surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero, dubbed “Dr. Frankenstein”, and attached to a new, healthy body in experimental surgery.
But now Valery, who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a form of spinal muscular atrophy often leading to low life expectancy, has backed out of the plan after his wife Anastasia Panfilova gave birth to a son.
The baby was born healthy, something Valery sees as a “miracle” since his disability can be inherited. Anastasia, who has a masters degree in chemical technology and previously studied in Italy, underwent tests during pregnancy. She is not seen in pictures with Spiridonov, but she explained online her love of men in wheelchairs.
“Such people are much deeper, feeling, faithful, kind-hearted, and also they are usually very smart… isn’t that the main thing?” she wrote.
“We lived in the same city, and often met on professional matters and soon realized that we felt really good together,” Valery said of their relationship. “She has several degrees. We got married a little over one year ago in Moscow.”
Valery, who is studying the computer analysis of emotions at the University of Florida, had worked for two years with Dr. Canavero but now accepts that the doctor’s first attempts at the futuristic surgery will now be on Chinese volunteers rather than him.
However, he has challenged the doctor to come clean over rumors that a test procedure encountered problems when carried out on two dead bodies.
The surgery was touted as a success in the media – much like a previous procedure, where Dr. Canavero claimed to have transplanted the head of a monkey onto a different monkey’s body. But while the monkey did survive the surgery, it never regained consciousness, and was only kept alive for 20 hours for “ethical reasons”.
Valery said: “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.”
Despite opting out of being a guinea pig, Valery said that he is “deeply grateful” to Dr. Canavero for his work.