The world’s first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China, according to a controversial Italian doctor who said recently that he and his team are now ready to perform the surgery on a living person.
Dr. Sergio Canavero, chief of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said the operation was carried out by a team led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren, who last year successfully grafted a head onto a monkey’s body.
“The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors is the next stage,” Canavero said at a press conference in Vienna, the Telegraph of the UK reported. “And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent.”
Canavero said the successful transplant by the surgeons at Harbin Medical University shows that his techniques for reconnecting the spine, nerves and blood vessels to allow two bodies to live together will work.
Although Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a muscle-wasting disease, volunteered to become the first head transplant patient, the team has said the first recipient will likely be Chinese, because the chance of a Chinese donor body will be higher.
Canavero, who has claimed to have successfully carried out the surgery on rats and monkey, said scientific papers detailing the procedure on the corpse, as well as more details of the first live human transplant, would be released in the next few days.
He said a live operation would take place in China because his efforts to get backing for the project were dismissed by the medical communities in the US and Europe, according to USA Today.
“It’s not just about a head adjusting to a new body. We might be dealing with a whole new person,” she said.