It was 2015 when Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero shocked the world by boasting that he can perform a live human head transplant in two years’ time. Two years later, he announced pushing back the end goal but claimed that he was already able to do so — in monkeys, rats, and human corpses.
Is he any closer to achieving this mind-boggling (and disturbing) dream of his, considering that there are actual patients volunteering? Were the earlier claims of successful head transplant operations on animals and cadavers even true?
When you manage to see past the outrageous headlines, you’ll realize that the titles are nothing but misleading. Canavero assured the “success” of his preparatory operations yet there’s no believable evidence anywhere.
Let’s recall his “successful” head transplant procedure on a monkey. While the animal’s head apparently survived the operation, it didn’t regain consciousness after. They did not attempt to connect the spinal cord so even if it did live a long life, it would have been paralyzed the whole time. The monkey was also kept alive for only 20 hours due to “ethical reasons” so how exactly was the whole thing a success?
Next was the rat experiment where they grafted a severed rat head onto another still-alive-with-a-head rat. Was this really a “transplant”, though? They basically just added a functionally useless part onto an already healthy body.
Lastly, let’s look at this head transplant on human corpses. By “successful,” did they mean merely connecting the nerves and vessels? It’s misleading to say that the operation was successful when they can’t actually evaluate the results after the physical alteration. Perhaps there’s scientific value to the techniques they were able to implement, but how can we know for sure if they don’t provide details?
Nobody can say (at least publicly) where Canavero’s confidence is based on. In fact, he hasn’t published actual results nor scientific evidence so far. Has he been exaggerating the “success” of his experiments since the beginning?
The 55-year-old neurosurgeon boldly said that his next step will be to attempt the head transplant on a person in a vegetative state or something similar. He also claims to have a “long list of volunteers” for this procedure. Excuse us, but how exactly can coma patients “volunteer” for that?
Although they’re somehow far from actually doing it on a conscious person, it’s still hard to decide whether a true success in the future will be most impressive or appalling. For now, let’s just hope that volunteers get the best (if there’s any) possible outcome because yes, there really are some who are willing to be operated on despite the obvious risks.
Watch this video to learn more.