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Head-Transplantation: A Short Documentary about Dr. R. J. White’s Controversial Experiments

Dr. R. J. White:

“I predict that what has always been the stuff of science fiction – the Frankenstein legend, in which an entire human being is constructed by sewing various body parts together, will become a clinical reality in the 21st century. Our modern day version of the tale will include the transplantation of a human brain. The brain cannot function properly without the plumbing of the body and the wiring of the head. So brain transplantation, at least initially, will require head transplantation or body transplantation, depending on your perspective.”

This 15 min documentary chronicles the first monkey head-transplantation and a series of other similarly controversial experiments that were performed in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1960s and 70s by world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. R. J. White.

Dr. White narrates the chronicle of and the motivation behind his experiments in attempting to sustain a brain alive outside of the body and, eventually, inside a new one. In addition, he shares his experiences during his trip to the Soviet Union and the experiments that he witnessed there, as well as the consequent internal conflicts he went through, stemming from his Christian faith and moral concerns.

Warning: Watch at your own risk. Graphic images include experiments with two headed dogs, monkey head-transplant, living brain and others.


A Monkey Head Transplant

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  • 33rdsquare

    Very interesting, but disturbing idea.  I wonder how much activity in this field of research is taking place today.  PBS NOVA has an article about it here: 

  • It is disturbing indeed my friend, both that it happened 50 years ago (imagine the possibilities today) and both that it challenges and potentially changes long-established presumptions about humanity and human nature. But that is what advanced technology will tend to do more and more i.e. challenge, disturb and disrupt our civilization…

    Thank you very much for the article reference too – it is fantastic!

  • Argh. I can’t watch this. 🙁 I’m too much of an animal lover.

    Now if it was a video of a 2-headed person (or 2 human heads on one human body), or a human head transplant, I’d watch with rapt attention. 8)

    In any case, this technology is inevitable.

  • Dan Vasii

    What the implications might be… if in some implant cases the personality of the previous owner of the organ somehow was somehow manifested. And Lois McMaster Bujold in Vorkosigan Saga approached the topic, with clones grown on this purpose for rich people.

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