GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero gives a press conference on November 18, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. The neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero is set to announce more details about his controversial head transplant surgery at a medical conference in Glasgow tomorrow. The Doctor wishes to carry out the operation in 2017 and believes it could lead to people who have been paralysed from the neck down to being able to walk again. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
It sounds like something out of a horrible B movie, but a professor in Italy says a team has successfully transplanted a human head in China. It was done on corpses to see if surgeons could reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels.
“The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done,” Sergio Canavero, the director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said. “A full head swap between brain dead organ donors is the next stage,” the Telegraph reported.
He added that it would be the last step before a full head transplant happens some time before the end of the year, USA Today reported.
A firm date for the living patient surgery has not been released.
Canavero said the procedure happened in China because “the Americans did not understand” and wouldn’t fund the experiments, USA Today reported.
Experts in the medical community said that a procedure like this would not be allowed in either the United States or Europe.
While it’s being called a head transplant, it’s technically a body transplant, where the recipient with a functioning brain will have his head transplanted to a donor’s body who has been declared brain dead, USA Today reported.
Doctors will fuse the spinal cord and attach blood vessels and muscles then the patient will be kept in a coma for a month as the person heals, Newsweek reported. If it is successful, the patient could walk again, Canavero claims.
Many in the medical community said that not only is it doubtful the procedure will be successful, there also are ethical questions, saying that whoever undergoes the procedure will be in incredible pain, and not able to breathe or control their own heart rate, Newsweek reported.
Canavero cites studies on animals to support his plan, but other doctors say that, ‘You’re not going to jump from rodent to human” and that Canavero’s plan is “criminal,” Newsweek reported.