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China Exclusive: Head transplant experiments spark debate in China

(Xinhua)    20:23, June 15, 2015

HARBIN, June 15 -- A surgeon in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has triggered public debate after announcing plans to perform a head transplant on primates after successfully operating on mice.

Ren Xiaoping, a doctor with the second affiliated hospital of Harbin Medical University, successfully transplanted the head of one mouse to another's body in 2013. The team has since performed nearly 1,000 such operations, though very few survive long after the surgery.

Ren's team has been working on perfecting the operation and announced plans to test the procedure on monkeys in the future, without going into detail.

Ren studied and worked in the U.S. before returning to China three years ago. He said head transplants present the ultimate challenge for medical experts.

"How to reconnect the donor and recipient spinal cords, how to keep the brain alive during the transfer and how to prevent the body from rejecting the head are all technical difficulties we need to overcome," he said.

Each small step of progress in medical science requires countless tries and even failures, he said.

As a scientific researcher and a doctor, he hopes such experiments might help people with spinal cord injuries or muscular dystrophy in the future.

His ambitious plan, more at home in science fiction, is beyond many people's imagination and has drawn hot debate in both real and virtual settings.

If these experiments can help patients with incurable diseases and scientists in other countries have been also conducting such research they should be allowed, Web user "Jiankanglyuxing" commented on microblog Sina Weibo.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Xinyu,Bianji)

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