Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rishi. Rishi Wonders, “Will brain transplantation be possible?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rishi!
Modern medicine may seem like it has everything figured it out. After all, it’s come a long way since plague doctors dressed like birds. Today, we have vaccines, penicillin, and many other ways to keep people healthy. However, there are still plenty of conditions medicine hasn’t cured.
Still, health care is improving all the time. Will doctors one day cure the common cold? Will they find a way to stop cancer or end diabetes? With experts working around the clock to improve medicine, anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe one day, even brain transplants will be possible.
After all, doctors are able to transplant some organs today. It can be risky, but often saves lives. Do you know anyone who’s been given a new heart, kidney, or lung? If so, they are likely very thankful for the organ donor who saved their life.
For patients with leukemia, bone marrow transplants make a big difference. Some people have even received new faces! Humans have been getting new organs through surgery since 1954. So, why aren’t brain transplants possible yet?
All transplant surgeries are difficult. But moving a brain or human head to a new body would be an even more complex process. That’s because the brain is part of the nervous system. Doctors would need to connect the brain to a new spinal cord. This involves attachment to the spine’s many nerve fibers.
There are many other complications when it comes to brain transplants. For example, it’s difficult to predict the immune response to such a surgery. The immune system of the body receiving the brain could attack the new organ. This is always a risk with other organ transplants, as well. However, doctors have more knowledge with how to stop a negative immune response to these organs than to the brain.
Still, some experts believe full head transplants that include the brain could be possible by 2030. At least one surgeon, Dr. Bruce Mathew, believes this could be done. He’s suggested moving the entire spinal column along with the brain. This would get rid of the need to attach the brain to the new spine.
Ethical concerns also stand in the way of brain transplants becoming a reality. Some say they could save lives. The surgery could be an option for those with healthy brains but terminal illness elsewhere in the body. Others argue they go against nature. There is also concern over the effect on the mental health of those receiving the surgery.
What do you think? Are brain transplants the next great frontier in medicine? Or should they stay in science fiction? This is a question the world may face soon as health care becomes even more advanced.
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2