by Tracy Vanity
In 1970, a doctor by the name of Robert J. White transplanted the heads of two rhesus monkeys. The procedure was a “success” since the animals were alive and responded to stimuli. They were able to move their heads and even bite a pencil. What’s worse, they could still feel and hear.
The only problem, aside from it being like some Twilight Zone hell for all the animals involved, was that the spinal column had to be severed in order to transplant the heads and could not be reconnected. This rendered the animals completely paralyzed from the neck down. White would go on to torture many more monkeys and get a lot of flack from animal rights activists and ethical scientists.
The Soviet Russian government were interested in White’s mad scientist idea and conducted some severed head experiments on dogs. They ended up sewing the head of a puppy onto another dog. They also kept the severed heads of dogs alive through tubes with pumped oxygen and blood. The footage of this is pretty fucked up.
The first dog heads to enjoy, if that word can be used, full cerebral function were those [of] transplantation whiz Vladimir Demikhov, in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Demikhov minimized the time that the severed donor head was without oxygen by using “blood-vessel sewing machines.” He transplanted twenty puppy heads—actually, head-shoulders-lungs—and forelimbs units with an esophagus that emptied, untidily, onto the outside of the dog—onto fully grown dogs, to see what they would do and how long they would last (usually from two to six days, but in one case as long as twenty-nine days).
Recently, Dr. Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, announced that the spinal column could now be connected and that a successful head transplant on humans could be achieved. All he needs is about $12.8 million, 100 people, and 36 hours. The heads need to be removed and connected within an hour. Canavero states,
“This is no longer science fiction. This could be done today — now. If this operation is done it will provide a few people with a substantial amount of extra life,” he said. “The only reason I have not gone further is funding.”
via The Telegraph
Thankfully many in the scientific community do not agree with Canavero, calling his claims “bad science” and comparing his idea to something from a horror movie.
You there is an interesting documentary about all this called A. Head, B. Body.