The world’s first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China in an 18-hour operation that showed it was possible to successfully reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels.
At a press conference in Vienna on Friday morning, Italian Professor Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, announced that a team at Harbin Medical University had “realised the first human head transplant” and said an operation on a live human will take place “imminently”.
The operation was carried out by a team led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, who last year successfully grafted a head onto the body of a monkey.
Prof Canavero, said: “The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. 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.
Prof Canavero shocked the world in 2015 when he said that he would be ready to transplant a human head within two years.
Although Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who suffers spinal muscular atrophy, had volunteered to become the first head transplant patient, the team have since said the first trial is likely to be carried out on someone who is Chinese, because the chance of a Chinese donor body will be higher.
Prof Canavero said a “high number” of people had already volunteered for the transplant.
Speaking at the press conference, Prof Canavero said: “For too long nature has dictated her rules to us. We’re born, we grow, we age and we die. For millions of years humans has evolved and 100 billion humans have died. That’s genocide on a mass scale.
“We have entered an age where we will take our destiny back in our hands. It will change everything. It will change you at every level.
“The first human head transplant, in the human mode, has been realised. The paper will be released in a few days. Everyone said it was impossible. But the surgery was successful.”
Prof Canavero said scientific papers detailing the procedure, as well as more details of the first live human transplant would be released within the next few days.