Neuroethics of body transplantation
Introduction. Recent contributions to the specialised literature address the topic of body transplantation, mostly produced by Sergio Canavero and a group of researchers from China. For several years they have been announcing that they will carry out the procedure, but it has still not been performed.
Aims. The aim of this study is to perform a neuroethical analysis of body transplantation, based on the methodology of Diego Gracia on ethics and bioethics and an analysis of facts, values and duties. Furthermore, we also propose that, with the knowledge available today, body transplantation must be addressed from the perspective of research ethics.
Development. As regards the facts, it can be said that, although the history of attempts to perform a body transplant dates back almost a century, there are many limitations preventing it from being performed with our current knowledge. This is due to the fact that no serious and rigorous preclinical research has been conducted (at most some anecdotal data can be found). With the data that is available, it does not even seem possible to think of designing a protocol to include human beings for body transplantation. In terms of values, according to the model developed by Emanuel, who proposes eight requirements that must be met to comply with the ethics of clinical research, it is not even possible to comply with one of them. Regarding duties, it would be wise to recommend that such a procedure should not be carried out on humans.
Conclusions. Considering the scientific knowledge currently available and the values of research ethics, a body transplantation should not be performed in human beings either as clinical research or as clinical practice.
Key words. Bioethics. Body transplant. Head transplant. Neuroethics. Personal identity. Risk/benefit.