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Italian surgeon performs successful head transplant of monkey

HARBIN, CHINA — A monkey head transplant was said to have been successfully performed at a university in China, said Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero. The experiment was done at Harbin Medical University in China. The researchers connected the blood supply between the head and the new body, but did not connect the spinal cord. “The monkey fully survived the procedure without any neurological injury of whatever kind,” New Scientist quoted Dr. Canavero as saying. The monkey was kept alive for only 20 hours after the procedure for ethical reasons. To perform a head transplant, both donor and patient need to have their heads severed from spinal cord cleanly. A glue-like substance known as polyethylene glycol (PEG) is needed to preserve nerve cell membranes.” Other techniques to aid recovery would include spinal cord stimulation, and the use of a negative pressure device to encourage the nerves to fuse. The head needs to be cooled to -15 °C. The experiment on a monkey shows that one can survive the procedure without suffering brain injury, Dr. Canavero told New Scientist. Dr. Canavero is seeking funds to perform a head transplant to 31-year-old Russian patient Valery Spriridonov, who has a genetic muscle-wasting disease.

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