Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero has announced further details about the plan to carry out the world’s first head transplant surgery. In a turn of events, the operation will no longer be performed on Valery Spiridonov, a Russian man suffering from the muscle-wasting Werdnig-Hoffman's disease, with whom Canavero has been working for almost two years.
Instead, the operation will take place in China on a currently unselected Chinese national. A news release put out Thursday by OOOM, the media company handling Canavero’s press announced that Spiridonov, “who for a long period was considered for being the first transplant patient, will not be the first person whose head will receive a new body.”
It was unclear why Spiridonov was no longer involved. Georg Kindel, publisher & editor-in-chief of OOOM, tells Newsweek it was simply about where the surgery will be taking place. “Because the head transplant will be conducted in China it’s much easier to get a Chinese donor,” he says. “That’s the main reason. I’m not sure if Professor Canavero has talked to Valery in the meantime. I don’t know the reaction of Valery. However, if the head transplantation succeeds—and we all hope and are confident that it will succeed—then it will not be the last, so it will only be a question of time when Valery will get a new body.”