In 1970, Dr. Robert White attempted an experimental surgical procedure that might as well have been lifted from the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – he removed the head of one living monkey, and attached it to the body of another. Dr. White called it a head transplant and a success. His detractors called it a medical and ethical nightmare. In June of this year, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero declared that advances in medical technology have made head transplants possible. A number of medical professionals greeted his announcement with skepticism. The Atlantic’s health editor James Hamblinwrote about how Canavero says the procedure will work.
In this episode, Stephen Dubner focuses on an experimental procedure called the fecal transplant. This procedure is sort of combination of organ transplant and blood transfusion that may present a viable way to treat not only intestinal problems but also obesity and a number of neurological disorders. We'll talk to two doctors at the vanguard of this procedure and a patient who says it changed his life. Also: we've all heard our share of poignant and loving eulogies, but what if the deceased was a real jerk?