Sergio Canavero is a controversial neurosurgeon who has made headlines by claiming to have performed the world’s first human head transplant. The transplant took a total of 18 hours and involved successful connection of the nerves, spine, and blood vessels of two people.
Not many details are available yet for this procedure that seems something out of a horror movie. Canavero did make a statement that the operation had been performed by a team led by Harbin Medical University-affiliated Dr. Xiaoping Ren. This Chinese team was involved in a monkey head transplant last year and the surgeon had been working closely with the team.
The neurosurgeon had announced two years ago that he plans to perform a human head transplant. He added the details in a paper later published “Human head transplantation. Where do we stand and a call to arms” that appeared in Surgical Neurology International.
He mentioned some of the complications that might arise in the process and we can be sure that there will be many. He talks about the proper surgical knife selection so not to damage the spinal cord for both the head as well as the body. The heads of both the donor and the recipient would also need to be cryogenically prepared. He also stated that the patient would have to take medications for the rest of his or her not so natural life.
“A specially fashioned diamond microtomic snare-blade is one option; a nano knife made of a thin layer of silicon nitride with a nanometer sharp cutting edge is another alternative,” he wrote, adding, “Notably, the mechanical strength of silicon is superior to that of steel.”
The details of the procedure are scarce and there is still no evidence to prove his claim but that might just be a precaution to protect himself from the strong opposition that he knows he will face. No matter what the case, it will be investigated and it is expected that we will know more soon enough although I am not sure if everyone wants to know.