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This profile was last updated on 9/15/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Sergio Canavero

Wrong Dr. Sergio Canavero?


Local Address:  Turin , Italy
Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group

Employment History

  • Italian Neurosurgeon

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member
    Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group


  • MD
118 Total References
Web References
Dr. Sergio Canavero, ..., 15 Sept 2015 [cached]
Dr. Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, Turin, Italy, has proposed in two published medical articles that a head transplant is possible, thanks to new technology.
Dr. Thomas Cochrane, a director of neuroethics at the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, said those with experience in the field say it will be nearly impossible for Canavero and his team to create enough evidence in two years that would allow him to ethically go through with the procedure.
Previously Canavero pointed to a 1970 operation where a surgeon at Case Western Reserve Medical Center transplanted the head of one rhesus monkey to another, as a reason the operation might work.
Dr. Sergio Canavero details ..., 27 Feb 2015 [cached]
Dr. Sergio Canavero details such a procedure in New Scientist -- a British weekly science magazine -- and says the ability exists to successfully perform the transplant, which involves literally mounting a patient's head onto a donor's body. From that point forward, the only part of the patient's body that would belong to the one they were born with would be from the neck up.
The procedure would involve substantial preparation, major surgery and weeks of healing, Canavero says, but it is doable. Britain's Telegraph reported Canavero's comments Thursday, which have also been published for peer review in this month's Surgical Neurology International journal.
According to Canavero, both the recipient's head and the donor's body would require cooling at the start of the procedure to lengthen the time the body's cells can survive without oxygen. Blood vessels would be joined by tubes and the spinal cords of each body cut before the patient's head is placed onto the donor's body.
At that point, Canavero says, the spinal cord would be fused together with the aid of polyethylene glycol -- a chemical that helps fat within membranes to mesh.
Following the surgery, the patient would be placed into a medically induced coma for about a month so the body can heal without movement. Canavero said the patient would likely be able to move his extremities and speak in his own voice immediately upon awakening -- and begin walking within a year.
While it might seem remarkable that such a procedure might ever be performed successfully in any of our lifetimes, Canavero believes it could be accomplished in just two years -- if the medical community supports it.
"I'm trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you," Canavero said.
"He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer," New Scientist said in publishing Canavero's work. "He claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body's immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017."
Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, told New Scientist he plans to unveil the radical procedure in June at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in Maryland. The hope is to get interested parties together and work toward making the surgery a reality.
Canavero told New Scientist that several people have volunteered to receive a new body.
"We all know that, for instance, in 1903 the Wright Brothers flew their first plane when every single scientist at the time believed that was totally impossible," Canavero told Britain's Sky News on Thursday. "I don't believe the word 'impossible.'"
The concept of a head transplant isn't anything new. Scientists performed one on a monkey in 1970, but the animal ultimately died after only nine days because its immune system rejected the new head.
Canavero proposed the idea two years ago, but most experts dismissed the idea. It's not yet known whether any of his colleagues will feel differently this time around.
"The real stumbling block is the ethics," Canavero said. "Should this surgery be done at all?
"I think there are a lot of areas that a head transplant can be used, but I disagree with Canavero on the timing.
Ren Xiaoping, who along with Italian ..., 11 Sept 2015 [cached]
Ren Xiaoping, who along with Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero, hope to attempt the procedure within two years, but only if the preparatory research and tests go according to plan, Ren said.
Canavero, who leads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, first announced his project in 2013, saying at the time that such a procedure could be possible as soon as 2016.
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio ..., 25 Feb 2015 [cached]
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sergio Canavero, the Italian neurosurgeon who is proposing to carry out the first human head (or body) transplant, is well aware of the ethical and philosophical issues posed by such an operation.
"The 'chimera' would carry the mind of the recipient but, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor," Dr Canavero wrote in 2013, when he first proposed that it would be two years before we see the first human head transplant.
Two years later, Dr Canavero has made the news again by proposing that it will take only two further years of research until we are transplanting the head from a patient with a broken body on to the neatly severed neck of a donor's freshly-dead cadaver.
"It will always be two years," he tells me, by telephone from Italy, where he heads the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group. "That's how long I need to organise the crew of surgeons."
Science News in Pictures
Few other neurosurgeons go along with Dr Canavero's optimistic timeline, and a substantial number believe that such on operation could never be contemplated. Connecting blood vessels and tissues are not so much the problem, it's the fusing of one spinal cord to another so that the brain can communicate with the rest of the body. Dr Canavero, however, is adamant.
"We have the technology to do this right now in humans… we just need the ethical approval and the funding to do it," he says. He believes it could be done by cooling the bodies of both donor and recipient to the point of hypothermia. Once this has happened, the two spinal cords could be severed neatly with ultra-sharp blades and bathed in polyethylene glycol to help them anneal correctly, so that the head can communicate to its new body, and vice versa.
"This is of course totally different from what happens in clinical spinal cord injury, where gross damage and scarring hinder regeneration. This 'clean cut' is the key to spinal cord fusion," Dr Canavero says.
Dr Canavero, however, suggests that it would be better suited to younger people suffering from conditions that leave the brain and mind intact but cause devastating damage to the body, such as progressive muscular dystrophies.
"They are a source of huge suffering, with no cure in hand," he says. "I really believe it will be done. It will be the new space race of the 21st century with America and China competing to be first."
But Dr Canavero is something of a lone voice.
A. It's surgeon Sergio ..., 10 June 2015 [cached]
A. It's surgeon Sergio Canavero's plan to transplant a living head onto a donated body, which will doubtless spark reams of controversy over the ethics and pragmatics of the "operation," reports "New Scientist" magazine.
But that's not the view of Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, who hopes to try the procedure possibly within the next few years.
Though Canavero believes the technical aspects are all feasible, he admits that "the trickiest part will be getting the spinal cords to fuse."
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