January 20, 2016 12:04 pm
Updated: January 20, 2016 2:21 pm

Controversial doctor claims monkey head transplant successfully carried out

In this file photo a macaque monkey sits on a fence.

Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images
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Warning: Graphic image below

Contentious neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero claims a monkey has received a head transplant and the operation was a success.

“The critics have been disproven,” Canavero said in a video posted online. “It is with pleasure that I announce that professor Xiaoping Ren in China did the first full head transplant in a monkey.”

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Last month Canavero garnered worldwide attention and criticism when claimed he will be the first physician to perform a human head transplant.

READ MORE: First human head transplant? Neurosurgeon and patient claim it will work

Now he is working with other scientists in China and South Korea to perform a series of tests and experiments.  He claims Xiaoping and his team have conducted tests on animals and in human cadavers.  He also said two major academic journals have accepted seven papers that will outline his plans and “all details involved.”

As for the monkey test subject, Canavero claims, “the monkey survived perfectly without injury for 20 hours before being euthanized because we didn’t want to keep the animal alive.”

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Courtesy of Valeriy Spiridonov & Sergio Canavero

The first human head recipient is scheduled to be Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a severe type of spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative muscle disease.

Confined to a wheelchair, Spiridonov travelled to Annapolis, Md. in December to hear his Italian neurosurgeon  Canavero speak at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons. After that meeting, Canavero was widely criticized for a lack of data and his plans were called “nonsense and completely unscientific, unattainable, and ridiculous” by other physicians.

In a video posted online Tuesday, Spiridonov and Canavero discuss the monkey transplant. Canavero also asks Russian billionaires and Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook, to help finance Spiridonov’s head transplant surgery. Canavero also claimed Vietnam has offered to host the surgery but he hopes Russia will volunteer.

The first monkey head transplant was performed in the 1970s by neurosurgeon Robert White. White, transplanted the head of a monkey onto the body of another monkey in the United States. He referred to it as a ”whole body transplant.”  The monkey lived for a few days and then the animal’s immune system rejected the transplant.  Canavero refers repeatedly to White’s work in interviews and in his writings.

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