Could there ever be a human head transplant?


My friend’s, 10-year-old wants to know if it could ever be possible to take the head from one person and attach it to the body of another. Now, whilst you might think that this is just the stuff of futuristic science fiction or a ghoulish Hallowe’en movie, there is a scientist who believes that a human head transplant might just work! Let’s find out more…

NHS Blood and Transplant estimates that in the UK, there are over 6,500 people on the waiting list for a transplant operation. A transplant is a type of surgical operation that involves taking part of a person and either moving it to another part of their body or putting into someone else’s body. A person who gives a body part for transplant is called a ‘donor’; a person who is given a body part for transplant is called a ‘recipient’.

Organs and body tissues like hearts, lungs, kidneys, bones, skin and parts of the eyes can be transplanted but the operations are very tricky to do: You have to remove the organ or tissue from the donor without damaging it and put it into the recipient. Then, all the blood vessels and nerves and connecting tissues that will hold it in place have to be joined up so that it can work properly. This takes a lot of time and must be done very, very carefully. The surgeons who do these operations spend a lot of time learning and practising how to do them!

Once the operation has been done, there is a risk that the transplanted organ or tissue could be rejected if the recipient’s body thinks it is being damaged or under attack. If this happens, the transplant stops working and has to be removed. Doctors will try to find a good ‘match’ between the bodies of the donor and recipient, so there is less likelihood of rejection. And the recipient will be given lots of medicine to try to prevent rejection from happening.

If you think about how complicated it is to transplant a heart or some skin, just imagine how much harder it would be to transplant a head! But this doctor thinks that a human head transplant could be possible within a couple of years. What do you think?

8 thoughts on “Could there ever be a human head transplant?

  1. coffeemom2016 November 23, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    Interesting read. I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to have to go through all that rehabilitation after the surgery. So many things to connect, and things I didn’t even think of until I read the other article.


    • kturton December 1, 2016 / 7:41 pm

      It’s a huge topic and one that I hadn’t fully appreciated until I started to answer the question!


  2. ChristinaMarie November 26, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    Having two children of my own… I absolutely love this blog! Thank you!


    • kturton December 1, 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. 🙂


  3. notfaulkner November 27, 2016 / 3:38 am

    My sister had a liver transplant, so I’ve been fascinated by how complex this process is! Thank you so much for posting this! You’re my favorite blog


    • kturton December 1, 2016 / 7:42 pm

      Thank you for the feedback, I’m glad you enjoy the blog. The transplant question was a really tricky one to answer but a fascinating topic to investigate.


  4. darrylspiano November 27, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    A couple of thoughts… Does it make more sense to call it a full body transplant instead? It’s not like, my head is broken I need a new one LOL. Also i’m curious how this might affect someone’s personality. I think part of our essence is elsewhere in our body beyond our head. Like the heart for example.

    Liked by 1 person

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