Saturday, January 20, 2018

Head transplant 6

The world's first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China - by scientists who say they are now ready to do it on a live patient.

Pioneering of the controversial procedure is being spearheaded by scientist Serio Canavero - who claims it will save the lives of terminally-ill patients.

Professor Canavero has previously been accused of 'going against God'.

A Russian man, Valery Spiridinov, has already agreed to the the first patient ALIVE to undergo surgery - and get his head frozen and grafted onto a donor's body.

Canavero told a news conference in Vienna, The Telegraph reports: "The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. A full head swap between brain dead organ donors is the next stage.

"And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent."

The operation was led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, a surgeon who has already performed a head transplant on a monkey.

Spiridonov has admitted that the prospect of going through with the operation is terrifying but added: "I am afraid, but what people don't really understand is I don't really have many choices.

"If I don't try this out my fate will be very sad. With every year my situation is getting worse."

A sufferer of the rare genetic Werdnig-Hoffman disease, Spiridonov, from the western Russian city of Vladimir, said that while he realised there were substantial risks he was prepared to sacrifice his life for science in the hope that enough would be learned to help future full body transplant patients.

He said: "I wouldn't want to have my head transplanted onto the body of a woman. When I wake up I still want to be a man."

Appearing on Good Morning Britain last year, Professor Canavero said: "We all agree that 90% is the chances that Valery will survive the operation.”There is a plan. We will do the surgery on brain-dead donors first."

When Dr Hilary Jones said he feared the patient could reject the head, the Italian surgeon responded: "This doctor doesn't know what he's talking about. It's going to work."


  1. As if the moral failures rocking our world were not enough, now comes Italian professor Sergio Canavero to tell us that he will soon be performing the world’s first head transplant. Performing is about right since Canavero has no proven science to back up his hype.

    Canavero has told the media that a recent operation at China’s Harbin Medical University has demonstrated that it is possible to successfully reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels of a severed head. A similar operation on a live human will take place “imminently,” he proclaimed.

    So what could be wrong with offering a procedure that could give hope to those with horrible disabled injuries that leave their bodies immobile or to those dying of terrible diseases who might live on with a healthy donor body? Well, everything about Canavero’s activity is ethically wrong.

    He has been touting his head transplant for years via media comments and news conferences. His actual publications about his technique, his method for reattaching the spinal cord, which is key to transplanting a head, or successful animal studies are next to nothing. There is not a chance this P.T. Barnum of transplantation could ever get approval for a test on a living human in North America, Europe or most of the rest of the world. His plans are all centered in China, where regulation of surgical innovation seems spotty at best and where tough scrutiny of his scientific claims is minimal.

    But let’s say this guy has figured out a way to reattach a broken spinal cord so that a brain could be moved to another body and work. Estimates are that there are 300,000 people with spinal cord injuries in the U.S. with hundreds of thousands more all over the world. They would love to walk and regain control over their bodies again. Why doesn't Canavero help them? He continues to prattle on about head transplants while a huge number of people and their families await a breakthrough in neurological repair of the sort he says he can do. Only a fraud would ignore them.

    And Canavero has yet to explain why moving a head onto a new body would produce anything other than death or dementia. Moving a head is not akin to moving a light bulb to a new socket. How is the chemistry and neurology of the transplanted brain going to respond to a new body with a completely new environment?

    If you promise the most severely disabled the hope of a cure on the basis of crackpot science you are at best cruel. If you promise longer life to those whose bodies are ravaged by disease on the basis of one surgery on corpses and animal experiments that have not worked you are an immoral shyster.

    There is a lot of alleged fake news out there these days. Head transplants are fake news. Those who promote such claims and who would subject any human being to unproven cruel surgery merit not headlines but only contempt and condemnation.

    Arthur L. Caplan is head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine.

  2. In perhaps the strangest embrace of the Frankenstein label, a 2013 article in Surgical Neurology International proposes recreating Aldini's electrifying head experiments. The authors of "HEAVEN: The Frankenstein effect," note that Aldini ultimately aimed to transplant a human head, using electricity to spark it back into awareness. That's just what the authors have in mind for their project, the head anastomosis venture (HEAVEN). "On the whole, in the face of clear commitment, HEAVEN could bear fruit within a couple of years," they write. (Many scientists have called the project unfeasible and unethical, but last November, two of the co-authors announced to the media that they had performed a head transplant on a human corpse and soon planned to publish details.)
    Courtesy of Doximity

  3. Canavero S, Ren X, Kim CY. HEAVEN: The Frankenstein effect. Surg Neurol Int. 2016 Sep 13;7(Suppl 24):S623-5. Full article at

    The HEAVEN head transplant initiative needs human data concerning the acute restoration of motor transmission after application of fusogens to the severed cord in man. Data from two centuries ago prove that a fresh cadaver, after hanging or decapitation, can be mobilized by electrical stimulation for up to 3 hours. By administering spinal cord stimulation by applied paddles to the cord or transcranial magnetic stimulation to M1 and recording motor evoked potentials, it should be possible to test fusogens in fresh cadavers. Delayed neuronal death might be the neuropathological reason.