Surgeons from China and Italy claimed that two studies published add evidence to their ability to treat “irreversible” spinal-cord injuries in order to perform the world’s first human head transplant.
Ren Xiaoping and Sergio Canavero said the new work they published in a scientific journal showed that monkeys and dogs were able to walk again after their spinal cords were “fully transected” during surgery and then put back together again. The neurosurgeons described the results as medically “unprecedented”.
The highly experimental procedures took place at Harbin Medical University in China. Both studies were supported by video evidence and published in Surgical Neurology International, a peer-reviewed medical journal based in the United States.
Canavero, who is based in Turin, Italy, and has a reputation in the global medical community as something of a sensationalist, said that for too long neurological surgeons have “stuck to the view that a severed spinal cord cannot be mended in any way, a mantra uncritically repeated over and over”.
He said that the two new papers published Wednesday, plus a previous study published last year in Surgery, a separate peer-reviewed medical journal based in the United States, “completely reject this view”
In an email exchange from Harbin in northern China, Ren said the findings were proof that human trials should be initiated and he noted that while this particular “grand achievement” took place in China, he was open to doing it “anywhere in the world”.