For decades now, surgeons have done countless of transplants – anywhere from internal organs, to limbs, to various parts and even a full face! But there’s always been this question hanging on everyone’s curious minds: is it possible to do a head transplant?
There had been attempts to do animal head transplants in the past, with pioneer Vladimir Demikhov actually able to carry out operations in the 1950s; however, the animals he ‘created’ died just a few days later.
The first animal head transplant considered successful was performed by Dr. Robert White in 1970 by following Demikhov’s basic concept.
The monkey survived for some time but because he did not connect the spinal cords of the recipient monkey with those of the donor, the creature was paralyzed and couldn’t breathe without help; however, White was able to demonstrate that the procedure was feasible.
These successful operations inspired neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero to dream of performing the first human head transplant, something he has planned for 30 years! He believes that using Demikhov’s concept and the framework from White’s successful operation, he will be able to achieve the feat.
Moreover, Canavero believes that modern medicine can help the recipient combat rejection much in the same way that organ recipients do.
While the subject is morbidly fascinating, many just laughed at the idea – for who would be crazy enough to volunteer for the procedure, anyway? Well, Canavero was actually able to find his ‘crazy’ volunteer! And the operation will be attempted this December 2017!