by Yaron Steinbuch
November 17, 2017

from NYPost Website

Professor Sergio Canavero gestures

as he speaks to the media during a press conference

in Glasgow, Scotland. AP

The world's first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China, according to a controversial Italian doctor who said Friday that he and his team are now ready to perform the surgery on a living person.

Dr. Sergio Canavero, chief of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said the operation was carried out by a team led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren, who last year successfully grafted a head onto a monkey's body.

"The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done.


A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors is the next stage," Canavero said at a press conference in Vienna, the Telegraph of the UK reported.


"And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent," said Canavero, who gained a mix of fame and notoriety in 2015 for his Frankenstein-like plans to achieve his feat within two years.

Canavero said the successful transplant by the surgeons at Harbin Medical University shows that his techniques for reconnecting the spine, nerves and blood vessels to allow two bodies to live together will work.


Although Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a muscle-wasting disease, volunteered to become the first head transplant patient, the team has said the first recipient will likely be Chinese, because the chance of a Chinese donor body will be higher.


Canavero, who has claimed to have successfully carried out the surgery on rats and monkey, said scientific papers detailing the procedure on the corpse, as well as more details of the first live human transplant, would be released in the next few days.


He said a live operation would take place in China because his efforts to get backing for the project were dismissed by the medical communities in the US and Europe, according to USA Today.

"The Americans did not understand," Canavero said Friday as he discussed the surgery.

Canavero plans to sever the spinal chords of the donor and recipient with a diamond blade.


To protect the recipient's brain during the transfer, it will be cooled to a state of deep hypothermia, he said.


He said Friday that his team has rehearsed his techniques with human cadavers in China, but there are otherwise no known human trials, USA Today reported.


Most medical experts say the procedure is fraught with danger and profound biomedical ethical questions.


Dr. James Giordano, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, told USA Today that not enough rigorous study has been conducted ahead of such a procedure.


He said patients might be better served if Canavero focused his efforts on spinal reconstruction, not transplants.


But he did give Canavero some credit for his pioneering work.

"He's run the ethical flag up the poles and said,

'Look, I'm not an ethicist, I'm a neurologist and this may be an avant-garde technique.


I recognize there is a high possibility for failure, but this is the only way we can push the envelope and probe the cutting edge to determine what works, what doesn't and why'," Giordano said.

Assya Pascalev, a biomedical ethicist at Howard University in Washington, told the paper that there are major unanswered questions about the identity and rights of the recipient.

"It's not just about a head adjusting to a new body. We might be dealing with a whole new person," she said.











Doctor Claims World's First Successful...

Human Head Transplant

-   But there's a Catch   -
by Tom Hale
17 November 2017

from IFLSscience Website



The first human transplant

on human cadavers has been done.

A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors

"is the next stage," Canavero told the crowd.


Never too far away from making headlines, the controversial neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero is back with claims that the world's first head transplant is "imminent", after Chinese scientists successfully carried out the first head transplant on a human corpse.


He revealed the news at a press conference in Vienna on Friday morning, The Telegraph reports.


Professor Canavero claims the feat was carried out during an 18-hour operation at Harbin Medical University in China, during which a team of surgeons successfully severed then reconnected the spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels in the spine and neck.


The operation was led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, a surgeon who has previously transplanted the head of a monkey and numerous rodents.


Harbin Medical University is expected to write a full report on the operation within the next few days.

"The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done," Canavero told the crowd, according to the Telegraph.


"A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors is the next stage. And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent."

In a phone interview today, Canavero told USA Today that the operation will take place in China because the scientific establishment and authorities of Europe and the US were unwilling to support the contentious surgery.

"The Americans did not understand," he said.


"Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to restore China to greatness. He wants to make it the sole superpower in the world. I believe he is doing it."

The eccentric Italian's plans to pull off the first live human head transplant have been surrounded and fueled with controversy.


Back in 2015, he estimated that the operation would be done and dusted by 2017, however that's looking unlikely considering the recent rate of developments.


Even though Canavero has spent the past few year writing scientific studies on the feat, massive doubts are continuing to be cast onto the scientific legitimacy of his big promises. 


Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at Langone Medical Center of New York University, said Canavero was,

"out of his mind".

Speaking to Wired in May of this year about head transplant surgery, neuroscientist Dean Burnett said:

"When someone makes an extreme claim, my rule of thumb is this:

If they haven't provided robust scientific evidence, but they have done a TED talk, alarm bells should be ringing."

Canavero's TEDx Talk can be viewed below:















Bodies Needed

-   Head Transplants about to Happen in China   -
by Karen S. Rommelfanger
November 16, 2017

from Yahoo Website



Karen S. Rommelfanger is a neuroethicist, assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, and the Director of the Neuroethics Program at the Emory Center for Ethics.

Paul F. Boshears is scholar of East Asian and comparative philosophy and limited term assistant professor in the Department of History and Philosophy

at Kennesaw State University.

The authors also provided an editorial for a forthcoming special issue on the ethics of head transplants for the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, the official journal of the International Neuroethics Society.

The issue features an ethics debate with Sergio Canavero, Xiaoping Ren, Paul Root Wolpe and more.





Government General Hospital, Chennai
Wikipedia Commons


Technocrat surgeons will need a supply of healthy, living bodies for those whose head and brain are intact but bodies are unusable.


China has few ethical or legal restrictions on anything to do with science and technology.



Human Head Transplants are About to Happen in China

But Where are the Bodies Coming From?

Whether or not we believe head transplants will "work" or whether or not we want them to happen, the fact is the technology to perform them is being developed in China right now.


We have been disappointed by the initial responses from experts weighing in on the matter.


So far the general response has been either to mock the character of Sergio Canavero, the neurosurgeon proposing the operations, or ignore the subject in the hope it goes away.


But we think these opinions and the reporting on this procedure has missed two critical questions:

Why China?


Why now?

Canavero's laboratory was initially based in Italy, but his research was made impossible there, so he sought other locations and funding for the human head transplant project.


He found a home for the project in China, where he is now joined by Xiaoping Ren, from Harbin Medical University.



Sergio Canavero,

who plans to carry out

the world's first human head transplant

in December this year.

Russell Cheyne/Reuters



Technological advancement is a major driver for economic vitality.


Investment in neuroscience is not just about health, it's about commerce...


It is our suspicion that the authorities in China supporting this procedure are doing so wagering that a successful transplant will demonstrate to the world the dazzling level of technological achievement in the country. Perhaps it will.


At a minimum, this procedure reveals that Chinese authorities believe there is no cost too high for raising China's profile on the world stage.


But it also reveals something else that we think is important:

cultural values determine what kinds of scientific research happens and where it happens.




What is death?


In the U.S., the Uniform Determination of Death Act states that an individual who sustains irreversible cessation of all functions of their entire brain, including their brainstem, is dead.


But China has no brain death standard, although one is being developed.


We must therefore ask:

Where are they going to get the bodies for the head transplant procedures?

An internationally recognized practice for ensuring ethical (and legal) research with human participants is acquiring what is called "informed consent."


Every single research project with human subjects done in every university or institution requires that the people who agree to be part of a study agree to participate without being coerced to do so and have the capacity and information to decide.


No credible peer reviewed journal will publish a manuscript from a research team that has not obtained informed consent from its participants.



A surgeon performing a kidney transplant.

(Representational image)

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages



As it stands now, we see two ethical problems.

  • The Chinese research team taking up Canavero's human head transplants could use bodies or heads from individuals who have not consented to participate. 


  • And it could be the case that the procedure would involve bodies or heads from individuals who would not be considered legally dead by Western standards.

One tricky aspect is that informed consent and research that requires human subjects do not typically apply to cadavers or the deceased.


The assumption being that being pronounced "dead" is not a reversible state.





Who is this for? 


A third concern is conceptual but tremendously important:

How is a "self" determined?

"Who I am" in the Western sense is an autonomous individual, the possessor of a unique essence that has rights that cannot be ethically violated.


But in the Confucian context, "who I am" is an accomplishment resulting from my performance of my obligations to my family and community.


Rather than enshrining the sanctity of rugged individualism, in the Confucian context ones individuality is the result of relationships and community.


We suspect that Canavero's procedure would not appeal to the vast number of people living in China because the predominant philosophical and spiritual traditions there would not favor organ donation - let alone brain donation - or any dismantling of the body.


Quite simply, ones organs and body belong to ones parents and they are not an individual's alone to donate.



Falun Gong demonstartors dramatize

an illegal act of paying for human organs

during a protest 19 April 2006 in Washington, DC.

China was accused of harvesting organs

from prisoners in the 2000s.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images



Consider the high number of organs available for donation from China despite the small number of registered organ donors.


China continues to be one of the largest suppliers of organs for transplants and has yet to be accepted as an ethical partner in the global organ transplantation community.


It seems unlikely that there is a significant demand for human head transplants in China, so who is this technology being developed for?


The consumers will likely be a small market of ultra-wealthy individuals who might deem the procedure as desirable because they live in a consumer culture that insists that aging is something inherently bad.


We in the U.S. live within a consumer culture that produces age-correcting products and we have a medical system that treats human suffering like we do a car:

it just needs the right technician to fix the problem.

We wonder if Canavero's human head transplant signals that China is ready to play the role of venture capitalist for a new "disruptive technology" - one that offers a technical fix to our unresolved fears of death.


Can there be a better industry to disrupt than that of the business of dying?


The irony is not lost on us that the procedure is called 'HEAVEN'...