5 Medical Procedures Worthy of Frankenstein

#2. Face Transplants


A simple yet ill-advised Google image search will confirm that some sort of face-eliminating horror show scenario involving nature, machine, or beast must have occurred if someone is being considered for a face transplant. First, forget the Face/Off-style swapping of one ruggedly handsome, slightly aging mug for another. There's no Travolta upgrade available. What that person will get -- if he or she is lucky -- is the face of a corpse with an intact and compatible visage that can hopefully be slapped on without the onset of horrible, horrible infection.

The first successful partial transplant was conducted as recently as 2005 on a French woman who had her nose, chin, and lips eaten off by her dog (see "face-eliminating horror show," above). Following the surgery, she was said to have a "hybrid" face with similarities both to her own and to her donor's. In 2010, Spanish doctors performed the world's first total face transplant on a gunshot accident victim. That procedure included not only the skin of the face, nose, and lips, but also the donor's cheekbones and teeth. Essentially, the entire face of a dead man.

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They call it Rourking in the medical biz.

The prevailing medical opinion is that face transplants are seldom a "necessity." Most people are expected to "live" without them -- just not eat or breathe on their own or go out in public without hearing the horrified screams of their torch-wielding neighbors. It's predominantly elective surgery involving a brutal, lifelong drug regimen alongside the constant fear that your body will reject the transplant. However, we're fairly certain the people who didn't have faces but then got faces weren't consulted when determining this definition of "necessity."

Not only are the medical risks higher, but finding a face donor match is much more difficult than other transplants. The blood type needs to be identical, and the basic skin tone, face shape, and age must be similar. Plus, there's the difference between approaching a grieving family about harvesting their loved one's kidneys and asking them if you can repurpose something as individual and identifying as their dead son or husband's face, like you're reupholstering some really cool chair you found at the thrift store.

#1. Cryonics


Some people aren't keen to be buried or burned up in death and instead spend an obscene amount of money on a preservation procedure called cryonics (which has a famous poster boy/cautionary tale named Ted Williams -- more on him in a bit).

First proposed in 1962, cryonics is the process where extremely low temperatures are used to preserve a human body that is considered dead by contemporary standards. It's expensive, but the hope is that future technology will be able to heal or resuscitate you someday (a key word in cryonics). You're betting that your memories and personality are stored in brain cells that aren't dead just because current science says they are.

Keep in mind that this is the same current science you're counting on to freeze you in the first place.

So now it's decision time, people. Opt for full-body freezing or just go with the head, which is termed neuropreservation? In the future, they'll plop your melon on a new body of some random future person's choosing and start you up, Frankenstein-style. If things go as planned.

Before making that call, gather 'round for Ted Williams Story Time. Williams, one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, specified in his will that he be cremated and his ashes be spread in the Florida Keys.

That's not what happened.

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Although being a career Red Sox should have really prepped Ted for things not ending the way he'd like.

Upon his death, Williams' son and daughter produced an ink-stained napkin signed by their father that stated he wanted them all to be cryonically preserved upon death so they could be reunited sometime in the future. The napkin survived a legal challenge, and somebody decided on a new cryonic option for Ted.

His head was frozen separately from his body.

According to Sports Illustrated, after Williams was decapitated, his head was placed into a steel can and his body stored in a 9-foot-tall cylinder filled with liquid nitrogen.

Approaching 200 years post-Frankenstein, the mad scientists of today now reside at the Alcor cryonics facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, allegedly using Ted's head can for batting practice and championing their unproven but fictional-for-how-long cryogenic procedures.

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