Dr. Sergio Canavero claims to have successfully completed the first human head transplant between two corpses. Canavero said on Friday that the next step would be to do the surgery on a living person. Due to legal and ethical constraints, Canavero is unable to do these surgeries in the United States or Europe, but China has welcomed him with open arms. The medical work is openly supported by China's leadership and Canavero's partner in his endeavors is Chinese Doctor Xioping Ren, who notably grafted a head onto a monkey's body in 2016.
Canavero first came to worldwide notoriety and skepticism in 2015 when he announced his plans to achieve a successful head transplant within two years time. His main technique for the transplant is by reconnecting the spinal chord, nerves and blood vessels which would reportedly allow two bodies to live together. The most difficult part of the process is the fusing of the nerves, which Canavero calls 'glue'. The actual technical term for fusing spinal cords is by use of polyethylene glycol as the 'glue'.
Earlier this year Canavero successfully repaired multiple spinal cords in lab rats which were a key hurdle toward his goal of a successful transplant in living humans. Canavero's ultimate intentions have deviated over the past few years. Initially, it was thought his goal was to cure paralyzed people but now he states that his end goal is to achieve immortality.
Canavero's notoriety has garnered widespread interest from ultra-rich patients looking to extend their lives with the use of their heads being transplanted into younger bodies. Canavero himself has confirmed that there are multiple groups of such prospective patients who are well funded and looking at his work as a viable way to prolong their lives.
Dr. Canavero elaborated on what the live operation would entail and said he intends to sever the spinal chords of both the donor and recipient using a diamond blade. In order to protect the recipient's brain during the 18-hour-long procedure, he would bring the blood to a state of deep hypothermia, preserving the blood for an extended period of time.
The medical world has been fa with Canavero's detractors, with people like Assya Pascalev, a biomedical ethicist from Howard University saying that there are many unanswered questions. These questions revolve around the ethical implications of such a complicated operation but things like the identity and rights of the recipient.
Pascalev noted that should the procedure be successful we would have to have answers for things like the identity and that we should not just be thinking about the head adjusting to the new body, but we may end up having an entirely different person.