Frankenstein is no more a fictional character.
China’s Dr. Xiaoping Ren has been dubbed “Dr. Frankenstein” after he announced his plans to transplant every part of the human body — yes, even the head.
Xiaoping revealed he is building a team for the world’s first full body transplant, which will include removing two heads from two bodies, connecting the blood vessels of the deceased body to the recipient’s head, inserting a metal plate to stabilize the neck and finally coating the spinal cord with a glue-like substance to aid regrowth, before sewing up the skin.
The procedure may sound gruesome but Xiaoping has assured it will help people who have been paralyzed.
The science behind the procedure is not yet clear, but earlier this year, Xiaoping experimented on a monkey which lived for a day after the surgery. The team has also conducted the surgery on mice, which experienced the same mortality rate.
Experts are condemning the procedure stating it is not possible to sever and reconnect the spinal cord. Others are questioning the morality of the operation saying the experiment is both premature and “reckless” and can lead to a loss of human life, in case it fails.
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Others critics say China’s national ambition, huge government investments and lack of transparency have given grounds to such absurd medical experimentation.
“The Chinese system is not transparent in any way,” said Arthur L. Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University. “I do not trust Chinese bioethical deliberation or policy. Add healthy doses of politics, national pride and entrepreneurship, and it is tough to know what is going on.”
Even Chinese experts are calling “Dr. Frankenstein” out for bringing negative attention to their country.
“I don't want to see China's scholars, transplant doctors and scientists deepening the impression that people have of us internationally,” said Cong Yali, a medical ethicist at Peking University. “That when Chinese people do things they have no bottom line — that anything goes.”
Ethical concerns have overshadowed China’s researchers in the field of organ transplant. At one point, the communist country was denounced internationally for using the organs of executed prisoners.
China is the not the only country that is exploring the possibilities of a full body transplant. Italy’s Dr. Sergio Canavero, a scientist at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics at the Russian Academy of Science is also in favor of a head transplant and has already selected a test subject, one Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy.