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Will Chinese citizen undergo world's 1st full head transplant?

Editor: 张锐 丨CRI

05-04-2017 07:02 BJT

It's being reported a Chinese patient has been tapped to undergo, what could be, the world's first full head transplant within ten months in northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

Italian Dr. Sergio Canavero, man behind controversial head transplant surgery proposal [Photo: xinmin.cn]

Italian Dr. Sergio Canavero, man behind controversial head transplant surgery proposal [Photo: xinmin.cn]

Italian Doctor, Sergio Canavero, the man pushing the controversial procedure, has told German media outlet 000M that a medical team led by Dr. Ren Xiaoping at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University will lead the surgery.

Canavero also claims Dr. Ren will hold a briefing within two months to outline the details of the proposed procedure.

However, officials with the hospital told China's news portal thepaper.cn that Ren's research is far different from the proposed head transplant. Calls to speak directly with Dr. Ren Xiaoping have so far not been returned.

Two years ago, Canavero announced plans to attempt his highly-controversial head transplant on a Russian man suffering from a degenerative nerve disorder which has left him without any mobility.

Initial reports by Canavero at that time suggested the patient's head would be removed from his body in a chilled surgical environment of 12 degrees. Once removed, the patient's head would then be transplanted on a recently deceased body.

Canavero claimed his surgical techniques would re-bond the existing muscles and nerves to the cadaver. After remaining in a coma for several weeks, the Italian surgeon claimed he would be able to revive the patient, who he says should then be able to learn how to gain mobility in his new body.

However, most medical experts have questioned the likelihood of the procedure working, noting that advancements in spinal cord research are not at a level yet where doctors are able to reverse paralysis within an individual's own body, let alone in a different body.

In 1970, doctors were able to graft the head of a monkey on a new body. However, the animal was left in a paralytic state, as the spinal cord was not fused to the new body. The monkey's head was able to survive for 8 days on the new body before the graft was eventually rejected.

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