Is It Time to Perform the First Human Head Transplant?

Internationally-renowned neurosurgeon James I. Ausman, M.D., Ph.D., has written an editorial commenting on the works of two surgeons who will be performing the world's first human head transplant.

World-renowned neurosurgeon James I. Ausman, M.D., Ph.D., has written an editorial summarizing the groundbreaking work from surgeons Sergio Canavero and Xiaoping Ren. By using new substances that allow for cell and membrane fusions, Canavero and Ren have restored function in mice and dogs with severed spinal cords, with the animals walking again within one month following the surgery. This work is a landmark achievement, and part of a larger project, in which humans with destructive diseases of their body will be able to have their head transplanted onto a functioning donor body.

An excerpt from the editorial:

"To ensure that the patient will be able to talk after the head transplant, his head and cervical spine to C3 will be removed from his diseased body. However, the entire trachea and its recurrent laryngeal nerve supply will be transplanted with the patient's head so that the patient's speech, or phonations, can be obtained after the procedure. Hopefully, the scientists will be able to communicate with the patient as he experiences recovery from the transplantation.

"The patient's head will be cooled by hypothermia during the surgery to preserve brain function at the time of transfer. The circulation between the donor body and the recipient's head will be established initially along with external carotid-vertebral anastomoses to limit the cooling process to one hour. This work has also been done in the literature and modified by Dr. Ren and his colleagues."

"Surgical Neurology International" has been following this work very closely and has devoted an entire section to head and spinal cord transplantation.


Categories: Neurology

Tags: cephalosomatic anastomosis, head transplant, Neurosurgery


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