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Coming soon: human head transplants to allow people to live forever?

Head transplants

(NaturalNews) It sounds like something straight out of a science fiction movie, but an eccentric Italian surgeon is claiming that the world's first head transplant has taken place.

As reported by the UK's Daily Mail, Dr. Sergio Canavero says that researchers in China have successfully carried out a head transplant on a monkey. Canavero, the paper said, caused somewhat of a storm of controversy last year, when he revealed his own intentions to transplant a human head, adding that it may be a cure for complete paralysis in the coming years.

"Now, after working with the team in China and other researchers in South Korea, he suggests his plan is a step closer, thanks to the experiments on monkeys, mice and human cadavers," said the paper.

The surgeon claims that Xiaoping Ren of Harbin Medical University in China, was able to succeed in the transplant by connecting the blood supply between the head and new body, but – and this is key – not the spinal cord. Paralysis is caused when the spinal cord is injured or severed, causing permanent paralysis below the level of damage.

Frankenstein, revisited

Canavero claims that the procedure proved that if the head is chilled to -15 Celsius (5 degrees F) a monkey is able to survive the procedure without any brain damage.

The Mail Online contacted researchers for comment about the claims, and were told, "The monkey fully survived the procedure without any neurological injury of whatever kind."

But, without a functioning spinal cord, the monkey was paralyzed from the neck down. Researchers said it was only kept alive for 20 hours after the procedure, for undefined ethical reasons. It wasn't clear whether the animal was able to feel pain in any part of its body following the surgery.

Xioaping added that he had done experiments on human cadavers to prepare for the surgery, and had also tested other ideas regarding how best to prevent injury to the brain.

The Mail Online reported further:

He is said to have successfully carried out a head transplant on a mouse in 2013 and since then has repeated the 10-hour procedure more than 1,000 times.

In a video conversation published exclusively by Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Canavero said, "The monkey survived perfectly without injury for 24... for 20 hours before being euthanised, because of course we didn't want to keep the animal alive."

He also claimed that the Chinese researchers had already performed their first human head transplant, but did not show the news site any photographic evidence of the procedure.

A separate video shows a mouse sniffing the air and moving its legs, after having reportedly recovered from a spinal cord severing and re-fusing.

Are you rushing to volunteer for this procedure?

That procedure, Canavero claimed, was done by Dr. C-Yoon Kim at Konkuk University School of Medicine in South Korea. He also claimed that the video of the procedure shows that it is possible to re-fuse a spinal cord if it is cut cleanly, and a chemical – polyethylene glycol (PEG) – is used to preserve cell membranes.

But, as the video shows, the mouse cannot move normally.

Though there are obviously medical ethics questions beyond perfecting the surgical techniques (if that is even possible now or in the future), Canavero is nevertheless seeking funding to perform a human head transplant, even before the research has been published. He said that he even plans to solicit funding from billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In 2015, Canavaro made headlines after announcing plans to operate on Valery Spriridonov, 31, who has a genetic muscle-wasting disease.

"'I'm asking today Russian billionaires and also foreign billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, who is already sponsoring much of this life extension research, and this is certainly about extending life, to finance, to bankroll the first head transplant in Russia on Valery Spiridonov," Canavero said, as reported by Russia Today.

Any volunteers?




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