The cutting edge

Written by Chris Gerbasi

(Tongue-in-cheek) medical news from top to bottom.

Calling Dr. Frankenstein
News outlets reported Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero’s plan to perform the world’s first human head transplant in December. His plan, which attracted considerable skepticism, involved removing the head of a patient (presumably disabled) and attaching it to a recently deceased donor body, like harvesting organs but using an entire body. The doctor says that if successful, his patient—same head, new body—would eventually be able to walk again. However, troubling unsubstantiated reports stated that friends often joke about the absent-minded doctor, saying, “He’d lose his head if it wasn’t attached.”

Be as smart as Alex Trebek
A proliferation of internet ads boast of “natural supplements” that will send your IQ sky high. The ads make claims like “scientifically proven,” “328 percent smarter in two weeks,” and “miraculous brain boosters.” One manufacturer even claims “Jeopardy” contestants were kicked off the TV show because they consumed these supplements. The irony, of course, is that these products target consumers whose IQs may not allow them to discern “miracles” from marketing.

From the past…
Fans of macabre medical oddities should map a trip to Philadelphia, where the Mütter Museum displays the remains of physicist Albert Einstein’s brain, a specimen from John Wilkes Booth’s vertebrae, the jaw tumor of President Grover Cleveland, and Soap Lady, a mummified woman whose body is mysteriously encased in a soap-like substance. The common thread? Soap Lady dated all three men.

…to the future
Robots are entering the world of health care and assisting patients at hospitals and care homes by moving them in and out of wheelchairs, helping them to stand, and even drawing blood, according to medicalfuturist.com. The site also details advances in augmented reality, such as a digital contact lens that manages diabetes by measuring blood glucose levels from tears, and a Microsoft HoloLens that projects digital information onto what we’re seeing, allowing interaction with holograms. And Google has hired computer scientist Ray Kurzweil to create the ultimate artificial intelligence-controlled brain, which would allow us to upload our minds to a computer and live on in digital form. Just don’t accidentally hit the delete button.

The significance of some medical advances is in the eye of the beholder. Phoenix-based pharmaceutical wholesaler Alliance Labs proudly announced a new formula, DocuSol Kids, for parents who have always wanted to give their children an enema. DocuSol produces an apparently rocket-fueled bowel movement within 2-15 minutes. Is it an aid or a punishment? You decide.

About the author


Chris Gerbasi

Chris Gerbasi has been a journalist for more than 30 years, writing and copy editing for newspapers and magazines throughout Michigan and Florida, and covering everything from city hall to spring training.

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