Are We Ready for a Human Head Transplant? The Obstacles That Must Be Overcome

John H. Barker*, Allen Furr, Juan P. Barret, Mark A. Hardy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose of Review: Saving an individual’s life by replacing his/her terminally diseased body with a healthy donor body would be an extraordinary scientific achievement. However, body-to-head transplantation (BHT) is neither a conventional proposal nor necessarily a logical “next step” in transplantation medicine. This review highlights the major hurdles standing in the way of performing human BHT. Recent Findings: Recent human BHT publicity was initiated by Sergio Canavero’s TED talk “Head Transplantation: The Future Is Now” (At: and a number of public interviews promising to perform the first human case by December 2017, despite little research and public discourse on this subject. Both are necessary in the development of innovative and perhaps paradigm-shifting surgeries. Summary: Relatively little research has been conducted on BHT. This review discusses several major questions that have yet to be answered such as viability of spinal cord reconnection, immunological issues related to head-brain-body rejection, ethical and psychosocial issues posing questions regarding informed consent, and psychological consequences. The ethical, surgical, immunological, and psychosocial requisites to perform human BHT successfully are extraordinarily complex and at this time lack adequate experimental foundation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Transplantation Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Ethics
  • Frontiers in surgery
  • Head transplantation
  • Immunology
  • Psychosocial
  • Reconstructive transplant surgery


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