Chinese and Italian transplant specialists are planning to conduct the world’s first human head transplant surgery on a Russian computer scientist that they claim would change the course of human history by curing incurable medical conditions.
Change the course of human history”
Sergio Canavero will partner with Chinese surgeon Ren Xiaoping at a hospital affiliated to Harbin Medical University to carry out the operation. A successful head transplant would “change the course of human history by curing incurable medical conditions,” state-run china.org.cn quoted Canavero as saying. Ren triggered public debate after successfully transplanting the head of a mouse to another’s body in 2013. He announced plans to perform the operation on primates this year. His team has since performed nearly 1,000 head transplants on mice. They have tested various methods to help the mice live longer after surgery, hitting a survival record of one day, the report said.Patient 1: a 30 year old computer scientist Canavero and Ren plan to establish an international medical team and have identified a 30-year-old Russian computer scientist with muscular dystrophy as the first patient. However, both admit there are many technical difficulties with linking the nervous system, blood vessels and spinal cord in order to prevent the body rejecting the head. In addition to technical difficulties, they must also design special equipment, instruments and surgical methods. The world’s first head transplant was performed in 1970, when American neurosurgeon Robert White transplanted the head of a monkey onto the body of another. The monkey died after several days when the transplant was rejected.The issues of transplanting heads
WangYifang, a medical ethics expert with the Institute of Medical Humanities at Peking University, believes there are stricter ethical evaluations that need to take place when it comes to humans. “Even if it becomes possible, using a donor’s body, whose healthy organs can help several people, on just a single person might not be fair. Also where can donors be found?” Ren hopes such experiments might help people with spinal cord injuries, cancer or muscular dystrophy in the future. He said there was opposition to the first human hand transplant, but they are now acceptable.