Sergio Canavero, an Italian doctor, is hoping to be the first to conduct a human head transplant and he thinks he can do it within the next two years.
The surgeon from the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has described a procedure for attaching a living person’s head to a donor body.
The details of the human head transplant were included in a recent issue of the Surgical Neurology International Journal. He plans to present his work this summer at the annual American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons conference which will take place in Annapolis, Maryland.
Canavero first proposed the concept in 2013, and he has continued to research and develop the technique. He just published a follow-up paper in the journal Surgical Neurology International, which provides details on how he could potentially accomplish this surgery, keeping the patient’s nerves intact. In June, Canavero will discuss the surgery at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons in Annapolis, Maryland.
If he were ever to actually conduct the procedure, Canavero’s first challenge would be to identify the right patients. One would need to be the recipient, a person who is mentally well but who has a body that’s failing. The suitable donor body would need to come from a brain-dead patent. (For his first try, Canavero plans to use two brain-dead patients.)
Read the full story: First human head transplant two years away, says one surgeon
The medical community has not embraced Canavero’s work with many doubting that it will ever be possible. Others raise ethical considerations.
The Italian doctor, who recently published a broad outline of how the surgery could be performed, told New Scientist magazine that he wanted to use body transplants to prolong the lives of people affected by terminal diseases.
“If society doesn’t want it, I won’t do it. But if people don’t want it, in the US or Europe, that doesn’t mean it won’t be done somewhere else,” he said. “I’m trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you.”
Putting aside the considerable technical issues involved in removing a living person’s head, grafting it to a dead body, reviving the reconstructed person and retraining their brain to use thousands of unfamiliar spinal cord nerves, the ethics are problematic.
Read the full story: First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims
What do you think? Are you up for a human head transplant? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Meet the Late Dr. Robert White, Who Transplanted the First Monkey Head
In 1970 Dr. Robert J. White led a team of doctors from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in transplanting the head of one monkey to another. After the procedure the monkey was able to smell, taste, hear, and see. The animal survived for a day and a half after the operation.