No, there hasn’t been a successful human head transplant
If you’ve skimmed the headlines today, you’ve likely come across one stating that Dr. Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, has completed the first successful human head transplant.
However, a quick look beyond the headlines reveals that’s not the full story.
Dr. Canavero’s team in China did in fact do a head swap procedure, but it was done on a corpse.
They were dead before, and were still dead after, so it’s hard to really label that as a full on “success”.
In 2015 he made headlines claiming that in two years, he will be able to perform a successful “living” head transplant on a donor body. Canavero pops up in the news occasionally by claiming various stages of success with monkeys and rats.
His claims have been met with widespread criticism and skepticism by others in the field and those who bring up the ethics of biomedicine and even identity.
That hasn’t stopped volunteers from coming forward. A Russian man named Valery Spiridono has said he wants to be the first person to have his head transplanted onto another body.
Spiridono suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann Disease which breaks down muscle and nerve cells.
Despite his critics, Canavero is pushing forward. He says the next phase in to perform the swap on two living, but brain dead organ donors.