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Who was Able to Conduct a Head Transplant Between Two Monkeys?

Transplanting an organ, body part, or muscular veins has always been a delicate surgical process. Though there was a reasonable success rate, there were also many ill-fated procedures. But do you know who was able to do a head transplant between two monkeys successfully?

Dr. Robert White managed to successfully do a head transplant from a rhesus monkey to another decapitated monkey in 1970. It survived for eight days, and was able to hear, smell, see and move its mouth but was paralyzed from the neck down.

Who was Dr. Robert White?

Robert Joseph White was born on January 21, 1926, in Duluth, Minnesota. He was a valedictorian of his class in high school and soon joined to serve in the military during World War II, where he was trained as a medical laboratory technician. At nineteen, he was discharged as a staff sergeant after serving two years in the South Pacific.

White began his medical education at the University of Minnesota and continued at Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with honors at the age of twenty-seven in 1953. Soon after he finished his medical degree, White went back to the University of Minnesota to obtain his Ph.D.

White suffered from diabetes and prostate cancer. He died on September 16, 2010, at his home in Geneva, Ohio, at the age of 84. (Source: Research Gate)

How Did Dr. White Come Up with the Idea for a Head Transplant? 

White has always been fascinated with surgery and its wonders. While he was in high school, studying at DeLasalle High School in Minneapolis, he could not help himself during his science class and got so enticed with their experiment that young White removed a frog’s cranium without much as the brain beneath it. Because of this act, White’s teacher told him that he could be a brain surgeon.

White’s life ambition was to be able to do a human head transplant. In the early years of the 1950s and 1960s, White did numerous trials on brain experiments on mice, dogs, and monkeys before he did his wondrous work on a successful monkey head transplant. 

Although most people refer to his successful experiment as head transplant, Dr. J. White preferred it to be called a body transplant because the work needed to be connected to make the operation successful.

White’s monkey head transplant was successful because it survived eight days after the procedure, but it died because the body rejected the head. The monkey had difficulty breathing independently and was immobile because the spinal cord was not connected at all.

This monkey head transplant experiment was White’s way of proving that this can be done to humans. He sees it as a way to transfer the human soul of a dying person from his ill and weak body to another able and healthy body to give him a chance at a healthy life.
White was a religious catholic, and he believed that his lifelong work and study had a higher purpose of preserving the human soul by keeping the brain alive. It was unfortunate that he passed away in 2010 even before he got the chance to conduct the surgery procedure on a human being. (Source: Dailymail)

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