By Reagan Ahlquist
The first successful human transplant was performed on a corpse in China on November 17th 2017, by Italian surgeon, Sergio Canavero. The purpose of this procedures was to find out if this surgery was even possible. After the surgery was complete, surgeons found out that connecting the spine, nerves, and blood vessels was possible, at least on a dead body. This transplant comes a year after the a team of medical professionals, led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren performed a head transplant on a live monkey, in January 2016. The monkey did survive the procedure, but was put down after 20 hours for ethical reasons.The next step in this experimental process is to do a head transplant between brain dead organ donors. The ultimate goal is to eventually perform an entire head transplant on live patients. Canavero wants to perform a transplant between a terminal patient and give them the head of a patient who is brain dead. This procedure will take place in Russia, hopefully within a year.
Even though this surgery was considered a success, others doubt if this transplant will actually work on living patients. Glenelg Senior, Robbie Baxter believes that “The transplant will work because the medical world has already advanced so much in the last 100 years.” It is true that the medical world 100 years ago looks so foreign to what it is like the in the modern day. And if this transplant can done successfully then it will lead to other advancements in the medical world. Baxter also said that “If they can connect all the nerves together then they should be able to do surgeries on others parts of the bodies, like limbs, making people be able to walk again or use their arms after accidents.” Being able to give patients their limbs back, after already having them healed over, and having them work so they can have feeling in them again would be a remarkable accomplishment. It will help people who are physically disabled get back to their normal lives, before their tragic accidents.
Others are wondering if this surgery is moral. The surgery requires at least one person to die in order to get their head onto the patient receiving the head transplant. Glenelg senior, Seth Taylor thinks, “The person losing their head is already technically dead, so it is like getting a donated organ making it moral.” It is true that the head is coming from a person who is considered dead, but they are still taking their head and putting in onto another person's body, which can be strange or disturbing for the families and friends. In the future these moral and ethical concerns will be addressed if these types of procedures become more common. But for now, this transplant is a breakthrough in the medical world and could potentially save lives in the near future.