The world’s first head transplant, which was scheduled to take place in December 2017, has been delayed. As of now, there is no definitive date but it would likely take place within the first quarter of 2018.
The Russian volunteer Valery Spiridonov, who was announced to be the first patient to receive the surgery, has decided not to undergo the procedure. Spiridonov suffers from a muscle-wasting disease and has been working with Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero for about two years on getting the procedure done. He recently admitted that he “won’t undergo the procedure” because “the doctor couldn’t promise him what he so wished for: that he would walk again, be able to have a normal life, or that he would even survive the surgery.”
Spiridonov told the Daily Mail “Given that I cannot rely on my Italian colleague, I have to take my health into my own hands. Luckily, there is quite a well-tested surgery for cases like mine when a steel implant is used to support a spine in straight position.” The Russian volunteer will now seek alternative spinal surgery to improve his life instead of undergoing an experimental procedure that has been criticized by several researchers among the scientific community.
Neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero told OOOM that “the surgery will be carried out on a Chinese patient instead” He also announced that he will be working side by side with his colleague Dr. Xiaoping Ren of Harbin Medical University on conducting the operation in Harbin, China. Despite being criticized by the scientific community for his methods, Dr. Canavero is still very optimistic that the outcomes of the surgery will be “positive“.
“At present, nothing in detail. When the time comes, the official news will be announced by Xiaoping’s team in China. At the moment, I can only disclose that there has been massive progress in medical experiments that would have seemed impossible even as recently as a few months ago. The milestones that have been reached will undoubtedly revolutionize medicine. That much I can already say.” ~ Sergio Canavero
In one of his recent publications, Dr. Canavero claimed to have severed and reconnected the spinal cords of 9 mice as a proof-of-concept for the surgery. The spinal cords were reattached using a special solution or “glue” called polyethylene glycol (PEG). He believes the same material could help reattach severed human head to donated bodies.
Dr. Canavero said he is determined to make it happen despite criticism from other scientists “There are so-called experts who have no experience because they have never done this before. They say ‘no this will never happen. I work on it. We have the scientists, the experts, the teams in the U.S., South Korea and China working it and when we are ready to inform the public, we will do it.”