A surgeon from Turin, Italy is planning to graft a living person’s head on to a brain-dead body of a donor using a radical operation.
Dr. Sergio Canavero said the first human head transplant can possibly happen in the next two years.
According to a report by The Guardian, Canavero is planning to put together a team of doctors this coming June. Canavero pointed out that the advances in medical science has made the human head transplant possible.
In the revolutionary medical procedure, a head of a patient with an incurable disease will be severed and stitched into the spinal cord of the body of a deceased donor. This will be followed by a three- or four-week medically-induced coma.
In 1970, Robert White and a team of scientists from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland were able to transplant the head of a monkey. After the operation, the monkey wasn’t able to move its head and eventually died 9 days after the procedure.
Canavero’s proposal for the strange operation is already facing a number of ethical issues.
In an interview with New Scientist magazine, Canavero revealed that the aim of the transplant is to lengthen the lives of terminally ill people.
“If society doesn’t want it, I won’t do it. But if people don’t want it, in the U.S. or Europe, that doesn’t mean it won’t be done somewhere else,” he said. “I’m trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you.”
One of Canavero’s critics, Richard Borgens of the Center for Paralysis Research at Purdue University explained one of the possible problems of the surgery.
“There is no evidence that the connectivity of cord and brain would lead to useful sentient or motor function following head transplantation.”