Around two years ago, the idea of potentially transplanting human heads onto different bodies got some attention. While the initial surgery never took place, the surgeon in question has not given up on this idea just yet. Dr. Sergio Canavero, also referred to as “Dr. Frankenstein”, recently announced another breakthrough where head transplants are concerned. He now plans to perform this surgery on a human, assuming a guinea pig can be found.
Dr. Canavero is not Giving up
The concept of transplanting a human head still raises many questions which seemingly can’t be answered right away. Such a procedure has a high chance of killing the patients in question, primarily because a human head and brain are not necessarily designed to be moved to a different body structure. However, the research accompanying this concept shows there is a possibility the idea might just work. The most recently published paper issued by Canavero seems to confirm as much, at least.
More specifically, the Italian doctor has never given up on his idea to transplant a human head. Despite meeting a lot of criticism in the US and Europe in the past year and a half, he is still actively researching this opportunity in China. As part of his ongoing research, he successfully reattached spinal cords of dogs and monkeys at China’s Harbin medical University. The “patients’ were able to walk again after the procedure took place, which is considered to be a major breakthrough. That particular aspect was still an unknown factor where the previously published paper was concerned.
It would also appear the doctor has found someone to aid in his research. The paper references fellow researcher Xiaoping Ren, whoa greed the results obtained during these recent experiments are “unprecedented”. While these results may prove to be rather interesting in their own regard, shifting the focus to experimenting on humans might not necessarily be all that straightforward either. Even in China, such a concept will undoubtedly be opposed, for rather obvious reasons.
Another potential hurdle may come in the form of finding a willing patient to undergo such a drastic surgery. When Canavero was still active in Europe, he had a patient lined up. Valery Spiridonov, who stated he “had nothing to lose” was not too dismayed the surgery was never attempted in the end. The main reason for this change of heart is due to one of Canavero’s previous experiments failing miserably. The exact reason for this failed experiment were never made public, which led many people to believe the Italian surgeon had given up on this crazy dream after all.
With this new breakthrough now documented in a research paper, it will be interesting to see if Canavero’s idea can be turned into a working procedure. Performing such a surgery on animals will always be very different from humans. Severing the spinal cords of donor and recipient bodies at the same time, cooling the brain to keep it alive, and then reattaching the other spinal cord accordingly, will always be controversial. Most of his scientific colleagues doubt such a procedure is even possible under the best of circumstances.
For the time being, no new human guinea pig has been announced. Nor is there any indication an actual surgery will take place now or in the near future, which is not entirely abnormal either. The research itself makes for an interesting and potentially appealing read, although the controversy surrounding such a major procedure will not go away anytime soon. Human head transplants will not happen for quite some time to come, although that is not necessarily a bad thing.