World’s First Successful Whole Body Transplant Completed on Primate
BY Dan Szyzka· MARCH 23, 2016
The First Human Head Transplant Trials are Planned for 2017
An idea first conceived in the imagined world of science-fiction may have just taken one step closer to becoming an ever-present reality in medical science. Sergio Canavero, a renegade experimental surgeon based out of Italy, reported a successful trial in which the head of a monkey was essentially decapitated and surgically reattached onto a compatible donor body with no neurological damage.
The procedure, which has been performed “over 1,000 times” on laboratory mice, involves cooling the brain-stem tissue to a temperature of -15° C to prevent damage being permanently inflicted to the animal’s nervous-system, which controls motor functions like breathing, heartbeat, and muscle movement. This, combined with a special concoction of drugs and electrical stimuli which incite the sharply-severed nervous tissue to sprout and mend together with the spinal cord of the donor, make Canavero hopeful that this hallmark medical procedure will be completed by 2017.
So while this idea is not new, the technology behind it sounds like it could be science fiction.
One man believing in Canavero’s enthusiasm is named Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old graphic designer from Russia and lifelong victim of muscular atrophy that volunteered himself to be the first human to undergo the procedure with hopes of one day gaining use of a healthy body.
In society’s quest for immortality, both Canavero and Spiridonov hope that the whole-body transplant will go the way of kidney and liver transplants and will become commonplace among those with life-threatening incurable illnesses. The procedure, developed through liberal use of animals as test subjects, has garnered widespread public controversy and outcry amongst animal activists claiming these experiments are chasing dreams of science-fiction and unethically using animals as expendable medical supplies.
They cite the claimed success in the procedure as heavily overstated since the transplanted monkey was kept alive for only 20 hours after the surgery to prevent further suffering as a result of the revolutionary medical procedure.
For people like Canavero, however, only through trial-and-error will such drastic advancements in medicine be made for people like Spiridonov.