Chinese doctor transplants mice heads, plans trials with monkeys

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A Chinese doctor who has performed hundreds of head transplants on mice says he plans to perform the procedure on monkeys.

Ren Xiaoping, who left a position at the University of Cincinnati to continue his research in China, first transplanted the head of a mouse on to the body of another in 2013. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, he has performed about 1,000 such procedures since then.

Ren uses a diamond-bladed knife to create a cut that cleanly separates the recipient’s head from its body. Next, the donor animal’s head is separated at the midbrain to preserve the brainstem so that the heart continues to beat and lungs continue to breathe.

Blood vessels are then connected using silicone tubes so that oxygen-rich blood from the donor body can reach the recipient’s head as quickly as possible, after which spinal cord nerves from the recipient’s head and the donor body are fused together using polyethylene glycol, or PEG.

The recipient head is then affixed to the donor body with pins, wires and screws before the silicon tubes are removed and blood vessels muscles and skin are joined using tiny stitches. The mice have lived for as long as a day, a record Ren is hoping to improve on.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Ren hopes to to transplant the head of a monkey in 2015.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. A mouse is shown having its head severed in preparation for transplant
2. The donor mouse’s head is shown being severed at the midbrain area
3. Blood vessels are shown being connected with silicone tubes
4. Spinal cord nerves from the two animals are fused using polyethylene glycol
5. The head and body of the two mice are shown being connected
6. Tiny stitches complete the connection between donor and recipient mouse

VOICEOVER (in English):

“Chinese doctor Ren Xiaoping transplants the heads of mice by using a diamond-bladed knife to create a clean cut that separates the recipient mice’s head from its body.”

“Next, the donor animal’s head is separated at the midbrain in order to preserve the brainstem, so that the heart and lungs continue to function.”

“Blood vessels are then connected using silicone tubes so that oxygen-rich blood from the donor body can reach the recipient head as quickly as possible.”

“Spinal cord nerves from the recipient’s head and the donor body are then fused together using polyethylene glycol or PEG.”

“The recipient head is affixed to the donor body with pins, wires and screws before the silicon tubes are removed.”

“The blood vessels, muscles and skin are then joined using tiny stitches. The mice have lived for as long as a day, a record Dr. Ren is hoping to improve on.”

SOURCES:
The Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com/articles/surgerys-far-frontier-head-transplants-1433525830