The controversial plan of transplanting a new human head seems to be closer to becoming a reality as scientists in China along with Italian neurosurgeon have successfully attached the head of a rat onto the body of another in an appalling experiment.
Researchers were successful in attaching the head of smaller ‘donor’ rats on the back of larger recipients, creating a freakish two-headed rodent that you would usually only see in horror shows.
The poor animals lived an average of just 36 hours, and the transplant was done without causing any blood loss-related brain damage to the donor, which proved the method’s viability for human beings. The Chinese researchers hail from Harbin Medical University, and along with the controversial Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero, they have been advocating the head-grafting experiments and working on ways to avoid brain tissue damage as well as long-term immune rejection.
The same team has also performed similar experiments on dogs and monkeys to test neural preservation to see if the brain can sustain any blood flood for long periods. All of these gory experiments have been explained in the paper published in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics.
For this particular research, three rats were used for each operation, one smaller rat used as the donor, and two larger rats, one as the recipient and the other as the blood supply. The blood flow to the donor’s brain was maintained by connecting the blood vessels from the rat to the third rat using a silicon tube and was then passed through a peristaltic pump.
The paper reads,
“After the head transplant, vascular grafts were used to connect the donor’s thoracic aorta and superior vena cava to the carotid artery and extracorporeal veins of the recipient. There was no injury to the donor brain tissue as a result of blood loss in the experiment, and after the surgery, the donor head was still able to blink and feel pain.”
The two-headed creatures only lived for 36 hours on average, but the scientists think that along with the peristaltic pump and vascular grafting, the life span can be increased.
These researchers are gearing up for a controversial head transplant, but many are opposed to the plan and the painful animal testing leading up to the surgery.
Canavero, however, appears to be pressing on! Here’s his Ted talk explaining his plans.
If anybody successfully transplants a human head in this century, I hope it’s this guy. He just has such an “evil scientist” vibe going on!