Could an Italian Scientist Pave the Way for Human Head Transplants?

USNews | July 1, 2013

By Allie Bidwell

In what sounds like a science-fiction novel come to life, one scientist says he is close to being able to affix one person’s head to another human body.

Italian scientist Sergio Canavero believes he has come up with an outline to successfully complete the first human head transplant in history, which could lead to solutions for those suffering from muscular dystrophy or tetraplegics with widespread organ failure.

Head transplants have been attempted since the 1950s, when Russian scientist Vladimir Demikhov experimented with dogs. Twenty years later, American neurosurgeon Robert White conducted a successful head transplant by moving the head of one monkey to the body of another. The monkey lived for several days, but because White could not connect the two spinal cords, the monkey eventually died.

Canavero describes in a recent paper a step to connect donor and recipient spinal cords – the one component that was missing from previous procedures because the technology to do so was not yet available.

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