Sergio Canavero, the maverick Italian neurosurgeon who has been in the news for his claims regarding his intention to conduct a human head transplant by 2017, is back in the limelight again.
According to New Scientist, Dr. Canavero has in his latest claim said that he has successfully managed to perform a head transplant surgery on a live monkey. Dr.Sergio and his team of doctors have published videos and images in which they show a monkey that they claim has successfully undergone a head transplant procedure and is still alive. The video also talks about the fact that similar head transplant operations performed on mice have ended successfully with the animals being able to move their legs even after they had their spinal cords severed – and reattached. These videos have not been released into the public domain now. However, a video showing a mouse that had a head transplant surgery performed on it has been released. We have embedded the same below. Be warned that the video might be difficult to watch for some users. Discretion is advised.
The video you saw above is of a mice that underwent a head transplant surgery in which the spinal cord of the animal was severed and refused again. It was performed by Dr. C-Yoon Ki from the Konkuk University School of Medicine in South Korea. According to Dr. Sergio, as displayed by the mouse, it would be possible to reconnect the spinal cord after complete severance – and also gain the ability to walk and perform other bodily functions.
According to New Scientist, they have not been able to independently verify the surgeon’s claims and adds that details of the successful head transplant on the monkey would be described in seven papers that the doctor and his team plans to publish in the journals Surgery and CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics over the next few months. The only image of the monkey that underwent head transplant is below. The image might be graphic in nature.
— DawnCuthbertson (@DawnCuthbertson) January 20, 2016
Several others have already come to fore and doubted the claim and have criticized the surgeon for going public with his claims before the papers are published. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine claimed Sergio was just doing “science through public relations.”
“When it gets published in a peer-reviewed journal I’ll be interested. I think the rest of it is BS.”
Harvard Medical School neurologist Thomas Cochrane also echoed a similar sentiment and said Canavero made the announcement too early. Talking about Dr. Canavero’s decision to make news of the head transplant surgery public, he says that the practice of early disclosure is frowned upon for good reason.
“It generates excitement before excitement is warranted. It distracts people from actual work that everyone can agree has a valid foundation. As far as I can tell, that operation has mostly been about publicity rather than the production of good science.”
— PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE (@Protect_Wldlife) January 20, 2016
According to reports, the successful attempt at performing a head transplant on a monkey is a stepping stone to Canavero’s attempt at performing the same procedure on a human. He claimed that once perfected, head transplant surgeries could become a way of treating several seemingly incurable medical conditions – including complete paralysis and aggressive forms of cancer. In fact, he has in the past claimed that the first human head transplant could happen by next year.
The Inquisitr has in the past talked about Canavero’s head transplant ambitions. In fact, we also reported about a volunteer who is willing to undergo head transplant. The man, 30-year-old Valery Spiridonov suffers from muscular atrophy, a condition known as the Werdnig-Hoffmann disease that is gradually destroying his body. According to reports, Spiridonov is dying a slow death and even though his survival following a head transplant remain slim, that is perhaps the only way out for him.
[Photo by Brennan Linsley/AP Images]