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Science
17 Nov 2017

World's first human "Head Transplant" carried out, claims neurosurgeon

In what is a major scientific breakthrough, scientists successfully performed the first-ever human "head transplant" on a corpse in China, claimed neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero.

At a press conference in Vienna, Canavero announced Dr. Xiaoping Ren carried out the transplant.

His team removed the head from a body and attached it to another by reconnecting the blood vessels, nerves, and spinal cord.

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In context

First human head transplant performed on dead bodies
Transplant on living humans to be performed in December

Humans

Transplant on living humans to be performed in December

Canavero said now that head transplant on "human cadavers has been done", performing it on brain-dead organ donors will be the next.

He added, "That is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition, which is imminent."

Canavero said the first head transplant would be done in China next month, claiming that many are volunteering to be his transplant patient.

Nature dictated rules to us for too long: Canavero

Canavero stated: "For millions of years humans has evolved, and 100 billion 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…at every level."

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Details

Chinese method reduced surgery duration by 50%

Canavero claimed the scientists managed to bring down the transplant surgery duration to 18 hours. The neurosurgeon, in 2015, said that such head transplant would take 36 hours.

He also added, "The Chinese improved on that in a spectacular way, and the surgery was successful."

Canavero said that after several transplant trials, the "first full rehearsal" had been carried out in China.

Experts worry head transplant would fail

Criticism

Experts worry head transplant would fail

Canavero didn't show any evidence of the head transplant. He claimed a scientific paper with all the procedure details will be released soon

After his announcement, the Italian neurosurgeon has been sharply criticized by several experts, who argue that his "transplant plan" isn't credible, as reconnecting spinal cord is impossible with the existing technology.

The legality of the procedure is also being questioned.

Details

Head can remain alive, but in incredible pain: Expert

Neuroscience professor at Ohio's Case Western Reserve University, Jerry Silver, said that human head could be kept alive for days by connecting it to a respirator.

He added, "Every muscle, the bones, everything has been severed. Can you imagine the pain from all those cut things?"

He said the procedure is the worst, adding, "The head is going to wake up in pain."

Surgery is absolutely feasible: Canavero

Hitting back at critics, however, Canavero said his procedure would be a "tremendous revolution" that has not been seen for some time. He added: "One thing is certain. Spinal cord fusion is a reality, and head transplants will happen."

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