China and Italy Doctors Plan for a Milestone: Worlds First Head Transplant Operation

Published Date : Sep 08, 2015

Transplant specialists from China and Italy are planning to perform the world’s first head transplant surgery on humans to claim that incurable medical conditions can be cured. Italian Sergio Canavero is planning to partner with Ren Xiaoping, Chinese surgeon, to carry out the said head transplant surgery at a hospital in Beijing, which is affiliated to Herbin Medical University. Canavero stated that after the successful head transplant surgery, the medical industry will be seen with a different prospective. The transplant surgery is expected to change the human history by showing that any medical conditions can be cured. 

Earlier in 2013, a head of a mouse was transplanted to another mouse’s body successfully. After a successful head transplant operation on a mouse, an operation on primates is planned this year. Till date, Ren’s team has successfully performed head transplantation operations on nearly 1000 mice. Various methods have been tried by the medical experts on the operated mice, to help them live longer after the operation. Ren and Canavero are aiming to form an international medical team to take control of the head transplant surgery. A 30 year old computer scientist from Russia, will be the first patient. The identified Russian scientist is suffering from muscular dystrophy. 

Ren and Canavero, both, admit that they found many technical difficulties while linking the spinal cord, nervous system, and blood vessels to prevent the body to reject the head. Along with solution to the technical difficulties, Canavero and Ren are planning to design special equipment, surgical methods, and instruments that would help in successfully undertaking the surgery. The first ever head transplant surgery was performed on a monkey, in 1970, where Robert White, American neurosurgeon, transplanted the monkey’s head onto the body of another monkey. Though the monkey survived for few days, the transplant surgery was not accepted.

According to Wang Yifang, a medical ethics professional with the Institute of Medical Humanities at Peking University, a strict ethical evaluation should be considered while performing head transplant surgery on humans.