Human head transplantation will be a reality by 2017. Italian neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero plans to perform the procedure in December 2017 with a team of Chinese surgeons, led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren - who to date, has performed around 1,000 head transplants on mice. The procedure - named HEAVEN-GEMINI - will take around 150 surgeons and nurses approximately 36 hours to complete and will cost around $11 million.
Dr. Sergio Canavero made his first proposal on this in 2013 and a lot of criticism aroused. However, Dr. Canavero is not the first surgeon to delve into the world of head transplants. In 1970, the late American neurosurgeon Dr. Robert White was the first to transplant a monkey's head onto another monkey's body.
While the recipient monkey had the ability to see, hear, taste and smell following the procedure, lack of sufficient technology meant the animal's spinal cord nerves were not properly fused to its head, leaving it paralyzed. In addition, the animal's immune system rejected the donor head, causing it to die 9 days later. While Dr. Canavero admits that spinal cord fusion (SCF) and the possibility of head rejection are still key challenges for the HEAVEN-GEMINI project, he claims that recent animal studies indicate they can be overcome.