Italian Doctor To Go Ahead With Human Head Transplant In 2017 With A Chinese Surgeon And A Volunteer – Is Science Ready?

A human head transplant is expected to happen within two short years. The Italian surgeon who was met with extreme skepticism has found support from a Chinese surgeon, and the team even has a committed volunteer ready to undergo the radical procedure.

When Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero presented his thoughts and expressed optimism at detaching a human head from the body and transplanting it on another, he was met with extreme skepticism, ridicule, and a strong rebuke from the medical fraternity. Many even questioned his sanity and called him a modern-day Frankenstein for attempting to transport a head onto another body. However, he has found an ally in Ren Xiaoping, a surgeon at China’s Harbin Medical University.

Dr. Xiaoping has volunteered to assist the Italian surgeon in performing the first ever human head transplant.

Canavero said, “Dr. Ren is the only person in the world able to lead this project. With its outstanding organizational ability and group operational ability, China might be the best choice to carry out head transplants.”

This means the first ever head transplant operation could very well take place in China at a hospital affiliated to Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang, reported the Daily Mail. The Italian-Chinese team even has a volunteer for their daring attempt. The only question is about science.

Those questioning the viability of transplanting a head can take comfort in the fact that Ren Xiaoping isn’t a novice to the art of chopping up living creatures and then mixing and matching body parts, reported Softpedia. He has successfully performed head transplants on about 1,000 mice. He is now keen to replicate the results on monkeys and hopefully humans in 2017.

The volunteer who is willing to undergo head transplant is Valery Spiridonov, and he suffers from muscular atrophy, a steadily degenerative disease that is rapidly destroying his body. Though there is a high chance he may perish, if Spiridonov doesn’t undergo the operation, his demise is certain.

The research and concept of beheading someone, albeit scientifically, and then reattaching the head to another body, is undoubtedly controversial and wrought with challenges, both medical as well as ethical. But if successful, the upside is huge and could save many who have a healthy mind but are bound to die due to a deteriorating body.

The team, though, having considered them, and flush with more than $2 million in academic and government funding, are optimistic and hope to go ahead with the head transplant operation in December 2017.

[Image Credit | Prakash Singh / Getty Images]