World’s first head transplant on way
SCIENTISTS are on the brink of “doing a Frankenstein” and performing a human head trasnplant, according to a leading surgeon.
Dr Sergio Canavero, of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, in Italy, says advances in cell and nerve engineering mean surgeons can now theoretically fuse a human spinal cord.
But it would take 100 surgeons up to 36 hours to do the pioneering operation, which would cost £8.5million.
The procedure has previously been performed unsuccessfully on monkeys as the spinal cord failed to reconnect. But more recently scientists have been able to overcome this in rats, and that breakthrough has led to Dr Canavero making claims a human head transplant is now possible. In his paper, published by Surgical
Neurology International, he says chemicals called ‘membrane fusogens’ or ‘sealants’ make it possible to fuse and repair spinal cord damage.
He said: “The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavour is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords.
“It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage.”
Dr Canavero said both the recipient and the donor would be put to sleep and the head to be transplanted would be cooled to between 12C and 15C.
Surgeons would then have one hour to remove both heads and reconnect the transplant head to the donor body.
The operation would have to be carried out within this time, because an hour is the longest a human brain can survive without a steady flow of blood and oxygen.