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What happens if you have a brain transplant?

What happens if you have a brain transplant?
Nicola from Cambridgeshire (Aged 5-14)

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Nicola,

    Currently a human brain transplant is quite a long way from being possible. However in the distant future it might be.

    If you ant to know a bit more of the science as it stands today, have a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_transplant

  2. The brain is a very fragile organ and actually one of the first one to shut down when someone dies. When people get organ transplantation, the organ is taken from someone who just died (often in an accident) shortly after death and kept for few hours in special conditions while the recipient gets ready to receive it (getting to the hospital and getting ready for the surgery). While several organs can survive for that long outside the body (in special conditions), the brain could not and would just “die”.

    Another difficulty is that the brain is connected to the body trough multiple nerves, lots of them going through the spinal cord. One would have to cut these nerves to be able to tranplant a brain. This is a big problem because nerves that are cut do not heal. (That is why some people who injured there back severely cannot walk anymore; some of their nerves got damaged in their spinal cord and it cannot heal. Therefore their brain is no more connected properly to their legs.) So I am sorry to say that having a brain transplant is just not possible!

    However, some experimental techniques (not widely available at the moment) are being developed in which few neurons are injected in the brain to replace damaged neurons (in people with Parkinson’s disease, for example). When this is done, the new neurons will find a way to connect to the other neurons and do function quite nicely.

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