Italian Doctor Claims He Has Successfully Completed World’s First Human Head Transplant

Sergio Canavero
Getty Images / Jeff Mitchell

An Italian neurosurgeon named Sergio Canavero claimed on Friday that he had completed the world’s first human head transplant between two corpses — but he gave no evidence to back it up.

At a press conference in Vienna, Canavero said he had attached the head of one corpse to the body of another by fusing the spine, nerves, and blood vessels. He said he then stimulated the corpse’s nerves to see if the procedure worked.

“The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done,” Canavero said in a video of the conference that he posted to Facebook.

He said that the procedure lasted 18 hours and that doing it on a living person paralyzed from the neck down was “imminent.”

Canavero on Friday didn’t specify details such as whether the cadavers’ organs had been removed or whether they any supportive equipment was used to sustain them. He told reporters that a scientific paper with the details would be released in the “next few days.”

Canavero eventually plans to do a similar surgery on living people

In the past when Canavero has discussed his plans for these types of procedures, he has referred to the process as a head transplant or a “full-body transplant.” But he described his latest work differently.

“My primary goal was not a head transplant,” Canavero said on Friday. “My primary goal was a brain transplant.”

He explained to Business Insider in July that the procedure he eventually wants to complete — whatever its name — would involve cutting out injured spinal-cord segments in someone with a spinal injury and fusing the healthy ends with perfectly cut portions of a donor’s cord.

Canavero plans to attach the cords using polyethylene glycol, a laboratory tool commonly used to encourage cells to fuse. Canavero refers to it as “glue.”

He said at the time that he would soon complete this transplant procedure with two humans — the head of an anonymous Chinese national attached to the body of a brain-dead organ donor.

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SOURCE: Business Insider, Erin Brodwin