LIFESTYLE
03/07/2013 15:23 BST | Updated 03/07/2013 15:24 BST

Human Head Transplants Are 'No Longer Science Fiction'

Doctors may be able to cure current diseases such as cancer by performing human head transplants, an Italian neuroscientist has claimed.

Dr Sergio Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, believes not only that this procedure will be possible in the future but that it can be performed with the technology currently on offer.

"This is no longer science fiction. This could be done today — now," he said, according to The Telegraph. "If this operation is done it will provide a few people with a substantial amount of extra life. The only reason I have not gone further is funding."

According to the Newsy video report above, Dr Canavero has offered a step-by-step guide to performing the human head transplant - including inducing hypothermia on both donor and recipient, and reconnecting to the new body within the hour.

Dr Canavero's has based his claims on a head transplant procedure carried out on rhesus monkeys in 1970 by Dr Robert White, but the animals did not stay alive for long as the doctors were unable to reconnect their spinal cords.

“The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavour is of course the reconnection of the donor's and recipient's spinal cords," Dr Canavero acknowledges in the study, according to The Telegraph. "It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage. It is argued that several up to now hopeless medical conditions might benefit from such procedure.”

Still, his claims have been widely criticised. Not least by Dr Jerry Silver who worked with Dr White on the 1970 transplant.

"I remember that the head would wake up, the facial expressions looked like terrible pain and confusion and anxiety in the animal. The head will stay alive, but not very long," Dr Silver told CBSNews.com. "It was just awful. I don't think it should ever be done again."

He added that the procedure is "light years" away from where it needs to be.