How close are we to doing a head transplant?

I just watched X-Files: I want to believe.

Not at all. We have no reliable way of reattaching even a single nerve fiber, let alone an entire spinal cord.

Agreed. A manned Mars mission is much closer.

What about a head installed on some robotic device, maintained alive through artificial blood flow and having some control over the robotic base through a brain-machine interface ? We are much closer to creating reliable brain-machine interfaces than reconnecting a single nerve fiber !

there is some video footage i recall of russian(?) reattaching/transplanting dog’s head. though there was video footage that looked like an alien autopsy too.

aren’t nerves reattached in limb/digit injuries and reattachment? nerves were attached in hand and face transplants.

Hopefully a neural surgeon will come along to clarify things, but as I understand it, they basically just attach the two ends of the severed nerves together, cross their fingers, and hope the nerves can sort themselves out. If they’re lucky, some sort of connection will be made, and limited communication will occur. Clearly, this is miles and miles away from what we’d need to get an entire spinal column to work. There have been some successes with injecting neural stem cells into the area, but that’s still got a long way to go, too.

It’s been done

Both are fake, obviously the second one. The dog head video is actually pretty entertaining. I believe its from the 30s or 40s and has the special effects quality of a movie of that period.

Oh, I dont doubt that you can take a head and sew it onto something. I think the question has more to do with transplanting a head onto a new headless body and being able to control that body.

I thought the dog one was real. :frowning:

What about the monkey?

Or not. From that same article:

I don’t know what your opinion of Soviet medicine is, but Vladimir Demikhov is generally considered to have grafted a head on a dog. Not a full transplant.

Years ago I had reason to interview Dr. Robert White ( for a documentary, and he’s a really interesting fellow. While the monkey-head transplant was considered “successful”, the head still cannot control the rest of the body. So to answer the OP, we’re probably not far off from having the same success with a human head, assuming you have two willing participants. Whether it will ever be done is another question.

Look at me, I’m Davy Crockett!

The problem is figuring out where the soul resides, the main theme of parts replacement in sci-fi.
I’m voting for the heart, with the eyes just the windows, out of Shakespearean nostalgia.

Not in GQ, it’s not. :smiley:

>I don’t know what your opinion of Soviet medicine is, but Vladimir Demikhov is generally considered to have grafted a head on a dog. Not a full transplant.

Im specifically addressing the video that was popular on the internet a few years back. The video was faked propaganda. The dogs head was barking (without lungs), breathing (without lungs), and was suspiciously framed for camera.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Soviet authorities mocked up the video to show off their achievements, real or not.

Would it be worth doing? You would have to choose to devote the organs of the donor body- heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc.- to give one person a poor quality, expensive and probably short life, versus extending the lives of several recipients needing organ transplants. And as noted we’re nowhere near being able to restore even minimal function to someone with a completely severed spinal cord. And that’s a head transplant. A brain transplant is science fiction on a level with being able to create a replacement cloned body.