China-based Dr. Ren Xiaoping is looking into the possibility of performing a full body transplant — the "scientifically impossible" procedure of transferring the head of a patient from one body to another — once a team was build and research was ready. Some are calling it "at best premature and at worst reckless."
Dr. Ren has experimented with head transplants on mice, but they have lived only for a day. He said he had also begun practicing on human cadavers, but declined to give details.
The doctor and his supporters say the operation could help people with potentially fatal diseases affecting body function, such as spinal muscular atrophy, as well as those with paralysis like Mr. Wang.
Some aspects of the plan are technically possible, said Dr. Abraham Shaked, a professor of surgery and the director of the Penn Transplant Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He said it could be possible to preserve the recipient’s brain and the donor’s body before transplant, attach many of the blood vessels and muscles, and control adverse immune reactions.
But it is still not possible to connect the nerves of the spinal cord, Dr. Shaked said.
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