Dr. Sergio Canavero, the Turin, Italy-based neurosurgeon who plans to complete the first head transplant surgery in 2017, says he has zero involvement with Konami’s next game, “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain,” even though a clip from the game portrays a man who shares Canavero’s exact likeness.
“The Italian police are investigating the matter,” Dr. Canavero tells Business Insider.
We’ve also reached out to Dr. Canavero’s attorney, and we’ll update this story when we learn more.
Dr. Canavero is a top expert in electrical and chemical neuromodulation, and he’s published over 100 books and papers about the brain and spinal cord, particularly relating to pain and consciousness. He’s also the pioneer of a head transplant procedure he calls “HEAVEN” (an acronym for “head anastomosis venture”).
Earlier this month, a 30-year-old Russian man with a rare muscle condition volunteered to be the first person to have his head transplanted onto another human body, with the help of Dr. Canavero. The procedure is set to take place in 2017, and it will reportedly require the assistance of 150 doctors and nurses, as well as a budget of $US11 million.
You can learn more about the procedure from Dr. Canavero’s TedX talk in December, embedded here.
Though Dr. Canavero and his methods are real, rumours started spreading last week that there might be a hidden agenda behind marketing the procedure. Citing a post on the gaming forum NeoGAF, Kotaku UK published a comprehensive breakdown that suggested Dr. Canavero’s head transplant surgery was simply a publicity stunt for a video game called “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain,” which is also rumoured to feature a head transplant.
In 2010, Hideo Kojima, the man behind the “Metal Gear Solid” series, tweeted that his next game would be “taboo,” but that he found “an ally who would happily support me in that risk.” Given Kojima’s penchant for deceiving his audiences with hoaxes and marketing stunts before revealing the game itself, leveraging Dr. Canavero and his expertise in this particular field certainly seemed like a page out of Kojima’s playbook. But Dr. Canavero outright denies any involvement with Mr. Kojima, saying he had never heard of him or his company Konami.
“The fine line is that mankind is crazy,” Dr. Canavero tells Business Insider.