Date
23 May 2017
Dr. Sergio Canavero said head transplants in mice had been successfully performaned in China. Photo: YouTube
Dr. Sergio Canavero said head transplants in mice had been successfully performaned in China. Photo: YouTube

Italian neurosurgeon to attempt first head transplant

An Italian neurosurgeon has unveiled plans to perform the first human head transplant by December 2017.

Dr. Sergio Canavero on Friday sought to recruit surgeons willing to help him perform the procedure from an audience of fellow doctors at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons in Annapolis, Maryland, Al Jazeera said, citing a Reuters report.

The operation could cost around US$15 million, the report said.

His patient will be Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian who is suffering from Werdnig-Hoffmann, a muscle-wasting disease. The two had been keeping in touch through regular video chats.

Canavero admitted that there is “a margin of risk” in the operation, but said he believes it could be done successfully.

“I made the announcement only when I was pretty sure I could do it,” the doctor was quoted as saying.

The operation would require a team of more than 100 medical workers and could take 36 hours to complete.

One of the biggest concerns is how to keep the brain alive during surgery, but Canavero appears certain the issue could be resolved.

He cited successful experiments of head transplants in mice performed in China.

He said he would use a substance called polyethylene glycol (PEG), which could essentially glue the motor centers of the spinal cord back together successfully after they had been severed, the Guardian reported.

Other doctors worried about the high rejection rate of radical organ and limb transplants, noting that the patient might go crazy.

But Spiridonov, the would-be patient, said his present condition was already driving him to insanity every day.

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CG

The would-be patient is Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian who is suffering from Werdnig-Hoffmann, a muscle-wasting disease. Photo: CBCRadio


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