Dying Russian Man Agrees To World’s First Human Head Transplant. But A Previous Experiment Has Failed.

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8:00 pm 14 Apr, 2015


Italian surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero (in the second gif) might script history if he succeeds in doing what he is about to – head transplantation.


A 30-year-old Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who is suffering from a fatal genetic Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease, has agreed to become the test subject.

He admits that he is afraid, but says that people should understand that his worsening situation leaves him with no choice.


In 1970, Dr Robert White transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, but the monkey died after eight days because the body rejected the head.


China recently claimed to have successfully conducted a head transplant surgery on a mouse. Experts, however, reject such a transplant on a human as fantasy.


Monkey head transplant

Diagram from Dr Whites monkey head transplant. White et al. 1971


The surgery will take 36 hours and cost $11 million.


The procedure to be followed is this (Warning: Readers may find it disturbing):

1. Body and head to be cooled to keep cells alive even without oxygen.

2. The neck of the patient will be severed. Crucial blood vessels will be hooked up to tubes, while the spinal cord on both the head and the body are severed.

3. Severed head will be moved to donor body and two ends of spinal cord will be fused together

4. A chemical called polyethylene glycol will be used to fuse the head and the body.

“Just like hot water makes dry spaghetti stick together, polyethylene glycol encourages the fat in cell membranes to mesh,” the doctor told 

5. Finally, the muscles will be stitched up.

The ‘new’ Spiridonov will be kept in a month long coma to allow self-healing of the body and strengthening of nerve connections. It will take around a year for Spiridonov to heal fully.

You may want to have a look at his current life.

And you might as well have a look at what the doctor says.

The biggest problem is that the body might reject Spiridonov’s head.



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