THE world’s first successful human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse.
In an 18-hour operation in China controversial scientist Sergio Canavero, dubbed “Dr Frankenstein” successfully reconnected the spine, nerves and blood vessels.
Sergio Canavero has performed the world’s first human head transplant
EPA: Sergio Canavero has performed the world’s first human head transplant
But other scientists have condemned the experiment as “disturbing”.
In 2015 Professor Canavero, former director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, announced that he intended to transplant the head of a paralysed man onto the body of a dead donor.
He revealed how he would cool the bodies to slow their metabolism before severing the spinal columns and reattaching the blood vessels and nerves from the head to those of the donor body.
Professor Canavero, who is now based in China, also claims to have reconnected the spinal column of a dog after 90 per cent of it was sliced through.
“For too long nature has dictated her rules to us. We’re born, we grow, we age and we die,” he said.
“For millions of years humans have evolved and 100billion humans have died. That’s genocide on a mass scale.
“We have entered an age where we will take our destiny back in our hands. It will change everything. It will change you at every level.
“The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. Everyone said it was impossible, but the surgery was successful.
“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.”
But his work has been widely met with criticism in the medical community.
Professor Jan Schnupp, from the University of Oxford, said the procedure conjures up “gory, Frankenstein imagery” and described the proposals as “disturbing”.
“The chances that a person who has their head transplanted onto another body will be able to gain any control over, or benefit from, that grafted body are completely negligible,” he added.
“The expected therapeutic value for the patient would be minimal, while the risks of graft rejection related side effects, or simply death as a consequence of a mishap during the operation, are huge.
Dr Sergio Canavero has previously explained how the transplant procedure would work.
The 36-hour operation involves decapitating both donor and patient.
The Italian neurosurgeon will then use a glue like substance named polyethylene gylcol to fuse the head to the donor body.
After the spinal cords are fused the muscles and circulatory systems will be stitched up before the body is placed into month long coma to recover (when it is done on a live person).
Canavero believes the procedure could revolutionise medicine, giving paralysed people the ability to walk again and people to transport their ever older heads onto younger bodies.
“Attempting such a thing given the current state of the art would be nothing short of criminal.
“As a neuroscientist, I would really like the general public to be reassured that neither I nor any of my colleagues think that beheading people for extremely long shot experiments is acceptable.”
Dr James Fildes, from the University of Manchester, said the project is “morally wrong” if the surgeons cannot first provide proof that it improves the life of large animal.
Professor Catherina Becker, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “Actual success of a head transplant must be measured by long term survival of head and body with the head controlling motor function.
“This can obviously not be assessed in a corpse and for all we know, would also not occur in a living human.”
Professor Canavero claims he will be able to perform the surgery for Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old terminally ill man who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease.
The skull of the wheelchair-bound man will be attached to a completely different body when he undergoes the dramatic procedure.
Valery, who suffers from a genetic muscle wasting disease, previously told Good Morning Britain: “My motivation is about improving my own life condition.
“It’s to get to the stage where I will be able to take care of myself and independent from other people.”
The £14million experimental transplant, is likely to take 36-hours and will involve over 150 doctors and nurses.
Last year Professor Canavero claimed he would soon be able to reanimate corpses saying a fresh cadaver might act as a proxy for a live subject as long as the surgery is done within hours of death.
He has also claimed he is just three years away from the first human brain transplant.
His latest experiment published in the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, saw him attach the head of a rat to another to make a two headed rat.
Professor Canavero said the next step was to do a full head swap between brain dead organ donors.