Hoax Alert: South Africa Didn’t Beat Italy In Performing World’s 1st Successful Head Transplant Surgery

By @vitthernandez on
Valery Spiridonov & Dr Sergio Canavero
(IN PHOTO) Valery Spiridonov (L), a man who has volunteered to be the first person to undergo a head transplant, attends a news conference in Vladimir, Russia, June 25, 2015. The 30-year-old Russian, who has a degenerative muscle condition known as Werdnig-Hoffman, wants to become the first person ever to undergo a human head transplant performed by Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero who says he believes he has a 90 percent chance of success. Reuters

Italian surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero created a stir in the medical community in April when he announced plans in the near future to perform the world’s first head transplant surgery. His patient would be Valery Spiridonov, a Russian man born with the rare genetic Wernig-Hoffman disorder characterised by wasting of muscles.

Over the weekend, it appeared that South Africa had beaten Canavero when it did the first successful head transplant surgery in the world on February 10, according to a report by Web site Controversialfiles.net. The alleged patient, 36-year-old Paul Horner, had one month to live due to his bone cancer diagnosed in 2010 when the 19-hour surgery was performed at the Charlotte Maxexe Johannesburg Academic Hospital in the country’s capital city. Horner is an American, but the procedure was done in South Africa because it was easier to acquire approval for the procedure outside the U.S.

According to Professor Myron Danus, head surgeon, their target was for Horner to be fully functional in 24 months. However, five months after the surgery, Horner is already 85 percent functional with the ability to walk, talk and do many things a healthy person does, Danus disclosed, the report claimed

He adds that the patient is also free from cancer, thanks to the parents of a 21-year-old man who was involved in a major car crash in 2012 and declared brain dead. While his body was fine, his brain had stopped functioning.

Danus told Controversial Files, “We received approval from the young man’s parents to use their son’s body to do the operation. They were extremely happy their son could save a life even in the vegetated state that he was in.”

However, while the Web site does not state on its “About Us” section that it is a satire portal, an Internet search at the Web site of  Charlotte Maxexe Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where the surgery allegedly took place, yields negative result. Similarly, the quote it cited from CNN is not found on the new site and comparison with a real article on the world successful first penis transplant in South Africa shows the head transplant articles used the same photos from the former.

While all indicators point to a hoax, this does not make Canavero’s planned surgery a hoax, but many medical experts have a lot of questions on the method that the Italian surgeon plans to use and doubt if his procedure would succeed in giving Spiridonov a new lease on life. But the Russian man is willing to take chances rather than live a life longer under his present medical condition.

To contact the writer, email: vittoriohernandez@yahoo.com