Health Science World

World’s First Head Transplant A Success After Nineteen Hour Operation

first ever head transplant
Written by Jimmy Rustling

The ground-breaking operation took a team of surgeons nineteen hours and has allowed the patient to be cancer-free.



Johannesburg, South Africa — A 36-year-old man has undergone the world’s first successful head transplant. The ground-breaking operation took a team of surgeons nineteen hours to complete and has allowed the patient to be cancer-free.

Paul Horner, who was diagnosed with bone cancer five years ago, was on the verge of death when he was approved for the controversial and possibly deadly operation.

Doctor Tom Downey, who was part of the South African team who carried out the operation, told CNN he is thrilled about the results.

“It’s a massive breakthrough,” Downey said. “We’ve proved that it can be done – we can give someone a brand new body that is just as good, or better, than their previous one. The success of this operation leads to infinite possibilities.”

Surgeons at Charlotte Maxexe Johannesburg Academic Hospital in Johannesburg carried out the operation in February but waited until they could confirm it was successful before they made any public statement.

Downey spoke to reporters about the complexity behind the first ever head transplant.

“This procedure is another excellent example of how medical research, technical know-how and patient-centered care can be combined in the quest to relieve human suffering.”

The operation was led by Professor Myron Danus and took place on February 10th of this year.

“Our goal is for Horner to be fully functional in two years and so far we are very pleased by his rapid recovery,” said Danus. “Before the operation, Horner’s body was riddled with cancer and he had less than a month to live. We were fortunate enough to find a donor body; a 21-year-old man who has been brain dead from a serious car accident that happened in 2012. The boys body worked just fine, but his brain was not functioning whatsoever, and there was absolutely no chance of recovery.” Danus continued, “We received approval from the young man’s parents to use their sons body to do the operation. They were extremely happy their son could save a life even in the vegetated state that he was in.”

Doctors say Horner has made an 85% recovery; walking, talking and doing the normal things a healthy individual does.

The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, nicknamed Joburg Gen is an accredited general hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. It has 1,088 beds. The hospital’s professional and support staff exceeds 4,000 people.

Even though Horner lives in the United States, the first-of-its-kind operation had to be done overseas in a location where the medical guidelines are not as strict.

VIDEO: First Ever Head Transplant Is A Success



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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.

150 Comments

    • Perhaps this is god’s divine plan, that his creation learns to use his brain to the fullest extent, and transcend the physical limits. How can one know?

    • then you should also stop taking any kind of medication. stop looking for cars when you cross the street. don’t read warning labels on packaging.
      since, you know, if god intends you to get run over by car, who are you to mess with his divine plan, by looking before you step into the road.

      your argument is so moronic, it gave me cancer.

    • How can you turn a world-changing discovery that has the potential to save millions of lives into a religious thing? If it were to happen to you would you just die because it is unethical and ‘messes’ with god or what?

      • You simon, sam T and luke you are talking madly, why;because compearing common knowledge that (Allah) gives these people with his Authority divine and power,so since you all blieves that they were not going across the (Allahs) boundry, let you meet them for you to be change completely, what I means here is this; it’s (Allah) who created you by leting the sperm of your fathers in to the wurbs of your mothers, looks after it for 4o days, then changed it to blood equally to 40 days also changed it to flish in the same days, then lives was given to you, so let these people that you are compromising with (Allah) changed all what I have mentioned now to and reborned you the way you want it, since now it’s (Allah) has power over you so let you kill yoursafe then let them gives you new life that is not from (Allah).since You ungreatful,unblessful,stupid,basterd enought to speak out of mind and senses,and know (Allah) will funish you throw all of you to hell if you didn’t turn to him.

      • I m very happy after knowing your thoughts about head transplantation.
        I m patient suffering from post traumatic paraplegia from 1998.
        I m 36 years old male.
        I need head transplant to cure and live my life again after.
        Please help me in head transplantation if u can.
        I m from India.
        My mo.no. 9794448702

    • C’mon dude i believe in god too but this is not messing with his plan. You should thank these doctors for taking care of hi creations(humans).

      You’re one of those stubborn and ignorant religious people. Always be positive and god bless you!

    • Where was your God when this guy had incurable bone cancer?
      I’ll take science over religion if it can fix “God’s will”.

    • Ever read something so stupid, it gives you a twitch eye?
      Now I have…
      If God didn’t intend for any of this, we would not have become this intelligent

    • Don’t you think that this operation might have been included in God’s divine plan? Otherwise, it would have been a failure. Finally a realistic-looking chance to say “fuck you” to shitty cancer. I hope the guy will survive and live long

    • so youd rather die that have a chance at life? because its “gods divine plan”? fucking brainwashed bigot you are. thats bullshit. god left us long ago if he even ever existed that is.

    • Come on Sarah! His plan is divine but don’t make public ignorant comments like you know it. Whether or not this is God’s plan is not your call. You are causing distrust of Christians with these kind statements and pushing people away from the faith.

    • As a former Christian, I believe God is nothing more than a phony construct to keep the masses sedate and lazy. Even if there was a God, he is a massive asshole with an even larger ego problem, and for those reasons alone he is unworthy of me. I choose to live by faith (in human capabilities) AND sight, and as proven in this article, science amply rewards those who can see the best of those two worlds. I pity religious individuals like you, because you choose to see everything from your theologically limited views. I can only hope that every religion goes the way of the dodo, because you and your brethren are a cancer on humanity’s progress.

      • It’s sad to seee how people have turned thier heads away from the truth. No pun intended.

        The thing is it has become so hard to see the truth when people are misled by how far we have come with science. Its easier to believe that life started by random luck and cooked itself into existence. In some primordial pot.
        Ever head a archiologist say the wall of china andomly built itself? A sigle starnd of DNA is more complex than anything we have ever created. This governs all life on our little planet i universe so vast wecould never imagine who might have desine this amazing piece of engineering AKA DNA.

        If you spoke to a plant and threatens its life do you think it would grow armour? Then how could it have designed itself. I do agreee that to some extent life adapts but it coulnever

    • Fuck God fuck religion. We evolved we were not created the bible is a bloody story book and nothing more. Without science and doctors we would all be dying by the age of 30 just like the 1800’s grow up people pull your head out of your ass and realise religion is all bullshit

      • I can’t blame u much for thinking d way u do about God. Yes there might b advance in science and knowledge, humans might seem to b breaking grounds in every aspect of life but have u ever sat down to ask urselves how its possible that almost every culture in d world from Africa to Europe to America even Asia, had one form of deity or god. America used to b a great power house whose greatness was built from d adherence to bible teachings but am afraid to say that such a country or continent as a whole is slowly becoming a disaster. From homosexuality to HIV aids to drug addiction to teen pregnancy to suicide to mass killings. There’s a lot more I cud tell u face to face but I will leave with word “God loves you” nd if u ever feel lost nd empty in ur course through life always remember that Jesus is waiting to make u whole. Bless u bro

        • Maybe gods were aliens he does come from the sky after all and that is why all cultures believe in gods. Also homosexuals, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, suicide and mass killings are not a new experience for human kind and have been around long before modern society stopped blindly following religion. Considering most wars and evils have been committed because of religion perhaps we are better to be rid of these antiquated beliefs.

    • The body is shown little significance compared to the significance of the soul in Scripture. To me, this involves only willing participants, using God given gifts, to carry out an extraordinary act of compassion. I bet the parents would know if there son had objections to transplants and God did bless him with a healthy body.

      • To you all out there, i want to emphasize, whether you believe it or not, that there is God and is the essence of our living. God created man and asked man to dominate and rule the world. The knwowledge and the feats achieved by man in science and other fields is the manifestation of God’s endowment in man. But in all these, the purpose is that man through the knowledge given him will use it to glorified the LORD ALMIGHTY, for the created can never be greater than the creator.

        So the big question on my mind, which i expect all to ponder on is, all these increase in knowledge and achievements, are they aimed at honouring the owner of such knowledge????? or dragging His name to the mud or perverting his name as some are already doing????

        So the issue is not whether Head Transplant is good or bad, its God’s given knowledge that was applied, just like any other inventions… kidney transplant, heart transplant,automobiles,etc.

        To cut it short, I am a final year medical students and have witnessed the limitation of science and have seen many certified dead on the operating table, despite everything put in place with all the expertise. Have also seen miracles happen as formerly diagnosed and scheduled surgical operation cancelled because pre-op examination proved normal. So you may not need transplant to heal bone cancer, God can do it in a blink of an eye, and it will be total, as there wont b need for chemotherapy to treat the metastasis. In case you where not told, all advanced cancer as in this case of discussion has over 80% chance of metastasis n must be on chemotherapy after transplant.

        Hmmmm, in all these, I have seen both side and stand in awe of the GREATNESS OF GOD.

        So as many as are yet to believe in our Lord and personal saviour JESUS CHRIST, through Him and only Him we can be save and reconciled back to GOD, then dont miss this opportunity , just say “LORD JESUS I BELIEVE IN YOUR NAME”. thats all, you are saved.
        God bless you all.

        • Tell them Dummene. All knowledge man owns was given us by the Almighty God. We were supposed to use the given knowledge to glorify His name and not ours. This operation with all the expertise could also have gone wrong and we would not have heard anything about it. Praise to God the man is alive. My question is how old will the man be now, 35 or 21?

          Give your life to Jesus now that you are able, a time will come when you would regret.

          God bless you all.

      • all this dat we re saying, d man is lucky and all dat, d question is who is d man?. is it d owner of d body or head?. which family will he belong to. cancer deseased body or…..

    • It seems that you have a directly line to God. I mean none of us even know what this divine plan is. We just do things that we think is right.
      It appears to me, based on your comment, that this procedure, though helpful, does not comply with Gods plan. Mind if you enlighten us with your knowledge of God’s plans?

    • Its sad Sarah ,that the only thing you took away from that story was they are messing with Gods plan. Your ignorant and closed minded,I wonder if that was gods plan to make you that way?

    • If his cancer was “God’s divine plan” then please tell me why you worship a deity that would allow his children to have bone cancer or any other painful and debilitating disease?

    • if god wanted him to die then the surgery would have failed… but no this is a miricle we gave his man a chance to live.

  • No more cancer, Aids, your body growing older etc etc…. even though this is brand new technology, if it continues to work, the applications that could be used in conjunction with it are astronomical

    • Steve, at the current rate of cancer, society could never keep up with the need for bodies, unless of course, you steal them alive. I’m all for this advancement but doubt the wisdom of man to follow through with this in an admiral way. Just a lot of concerns ahead.

    • In this case, the donor was brain dead and the parents said yes.
      Where’s the ethical dilemma?
      (Plus 3D printing can already print LIVING HEART TISSUE. I’d bet the rest will be like Leeloo in The Fifth Element’s rebirth soon enough!)

    • It’s not like they just killed some guy for his body, or denied a family the right to bury their dead son, the family okayed it. If I died I’d let someone have my body, I obviously wouldn’t be using it anymore.

  • I think it can go south now Rich folks who are dying can kidnap some one and steal their body. Nope can see where this can go wrong. Maybe in a perfect world this would be great but we don’t live in one.

    • Stop watching so many B-rated horror movies. As medical technology progresses, this would evolve just like organ transplants have evolved today.

  • As someone who has a neuromuscular disease from birth and has never walked, crawled or cared for myself physically, I’d like to say that even the prospect of a complete cure doesn’t make me want to volunteer for this! Perhaps once it becomes more common, but right now, I have a lot to live for and am not willing to risk my life just to walk.

  • I had a head transplant a couple of years ago – didn’t work out too well. Still hallucinating, I also have this sensation that emanates from where i sit. They say this is the brain adjusting to transmission from grey matter at the posterior of my new body to the head. Blair was not the donor but I am sorry i made an issue about that because I’m not certain i know who the other part of me is.

  • I do wish to really know who the “new” person is, the owner of the head, or the owner of the body? Does the head alone constitute the person?

  • J doubt if this wasn’t an abusive to human rights because j imagine the donor’s state now,either dead or…

  • Now one should be more carefull with oneself and children for fear of being kidnapped by some rich individuals
    who may need functional bodies to replace their dead ones.

  • Wait, I’m confused. How does this work? Is it that our head is the totality of who we are and we would be the same person on another body?

    • You are correct. Everything that makes you YOU (as far as personality, etc.) comes from your brain. The rest of you is just a vessel that allows you to carry on your daily activities. If your head was put on another body, you’d still think the same way and have the same personality. Nothing in the rest of your body controls how you think.

      • Seems to me that the subject of totality is a T.B.D. given that this is the first procedure ever performed. Neither you nor the science can unequivocally make this statement, you can however make an assumption and await the results that prove or disprove your assumption.

      • Actually the heart controls the brain. For example there are plenty of people that are paralyzed and yet are alive, and people in comas for months, yet are still alive. The brain only functions because of oxygen flow through the brain that comes from the heart. If the heart stops a person is dead. But if a brain stops a heart still beats.

        • oh and ok yea the brain obviously controls the body.. i read the question wrong. But wow that is a no brainer.. how do you not know that??

  • As an epileptic, this is promising, yet still not quite what we need. Once we can replace broken segments of the brain? I’m first on the list for the procedure!
    (But anyone with major body problems? Save up that cash! You hit the metaphorical jackpot!)

  • This discovery or ‘advancement’ in medical practice is NOT intended to save a millions of humans but to save a few filthy rich people who’s new bodies are to be bread ‘in vitro’ or 3d bio-printed over and over prolonging their life up to immortality. To save millions of humans these doctors should just disable these evil, dis-moral and conscience free individuals in ability of starting new wars and breeding hunger across the globe killing millions of children and adult with no repentance. Humans are designed to live for century or up to 50% more in toxic free environment but since toxicity in nature is upgraded by decisions of these evil individuals it seems that ‘them’ will have no place or people to show up their new ‘below head’ bodies. This reminds me on ugly ‘Borg queen’ from ‘Star trek’ tv series.

    • Really? Are you that dense? Just think about it for a minute. Are the reproductive organs attached to the head? No. So, if this guy with his new body gets a woman pregnant, where would the sperm come from? They’d come from inside the body, meaning the kids would look like the deceased guy.

      Stupid questions aside, you do bring up an interesting potential dilemma. If someone gets a head transplant and later has children with their new body, those children would be the legal offspring of the living person, but they’d have the genetic markers of the deceased person.

  • Are those concered about God, against all transplants? or just when everything is done at once? I wouldn’t want to be one of the first to have this modern miracle but Ive had RA for 43 yrs , Well just let me experience life pain free, it would be a miracle and Id thank Jesus and thedonor everyday.

  • I am just quite curious about the new identity of the patient. Will it take the identity of the head or the body? Well, he still have the face of Mr. Horner but the body of that 21 yr old donor. How about height, weight, birthmarks, finger prints, etc .. just curious. But this is a great breakthrough in the world of medicine.

  • just a thought…. who’s on the hook for any potential kids??? LOL… just being funny… this is awesome tho… it brings me one step closer to living past what I’m supposed to! 😉

  • Pretty screwy when it comes to criminal activity too-
    For either the former body of the head…and also the former “life” of the body…
    Thumbprints…DNA at crime scenes etc…
    Hmmm.
    On another debate of this topic- I’m really not sure they would be able to “keep a rich person alive forever” by just transplanting the head again & again- what about the ageing of the brain & spinal cord?! Humans just aren’t meant to last forever, but we do have a good crack at trying to!

  • it is not up to decide what is or isn’t gods plan. perhaps it would be more wrong to turn a blind eye to the gift of knowledge that God has given us. the christians I see posting in here are doing more harm than good it is not for us to judge and it is not for us to know what his plans is

  • We should just start growing people for this specific purpose. Then the rich and powerful can live forever Mwuhahahahaha!!!

  • God exists
    PROOF!!!
    our mind is a cocktail of ideas …we cant creat anew ..only what our nerves or senses absorb, we can modify…for the very fact a majority of people say God exists means they have felt Gods presence via sight, sound, smell, taste, touch ,the sixth sense and other senses we are yet to discover….All those who say God doesnt exist is bcoz they have surrounded themselves with human creations more often than Gods or some are just embittered by disappointments which is a poor rxn to adversities…
    …If u want to feel him try this scientific experiment…
    camp in nature, Gods garden…(he always comes around to take care of his works)…meditate…tell him about how wonderful his creations are…including u…..tell him u want to know him better…do this for lets say three weeks…talk to him like u actually see him abt anything u want answers to….then pls dont forget to testify to others….its just a scientific experiment…I just postulated a proven hypothesis to u…experiment it if u have a scientific mind….ANYONE CAN TRY IT…I guarantee u a wise smile at the end..

  • This is amazing. It will be quite a step for the medical community if this works. This is my livelihood. I’ve been working in surgery for 19 years. There is nothing more rewarding. I too believe in science and technology but friends there are too many times in my career ive witnessed the unexpected the unexplainable and been struck by complete awe by visiting Gods country otherwise known as the human body.

  • Lol, lot of stupid people getting religion into the debate here. I read “end.of.days” remarks here. But why put it off? At the end of days, we sinners go to hell and you godfearing creatures get your lord and saviour back, so what’s the fuss about! Shouldn’t we equally be happy about the same thing but just for opposite reasons?

    • Semantics … would the head be considered to be part of one’s body whereas the body is neither a body part nor is it part of the head? Regardless of what you wish to call it, the procedure is truly amazing.

  • I wonder if the man is happy with his genetalia…is it bigger smaller i tend to wonder now his metal conciousness is . Or what he thinks of his new body parts..penis ..i mean he now has to touch another mans penis..

    • It is a great achievement indeed, my 4 years little daughter is suffer from ITP is there any one in the glob who help me to save the little soul. She has been under treatment but no improvement.

  • I see it is a big success, as a doctor I would like to congratulate to all team, I would like to ask for more detail about this news, such as how they transplant the vertebra, main blood viseles like carroted, sorry to say still the news looks fake if we see scientifically. regards

  • Sir any doctor is there to help me my sisters is suffering from lungs cancer plz tell how she will cure treatment already we doing but no results to get recovery plzzzzzzzzzzzz suggest me and tell me wht to do my sister live in india West bengal state city kolkata plz help sir we are showing her in TATA CENTRE CANCER HOSPTAL

    • Asif Khan, i will pray for your sister’s complete and total recovery in the name of Jesus, once she starts to recover you and your family should go to a bible believing church and get Saved, you should also post to this website that she is well. or contact me +919023664675, i currently live in north India. All is Well

  • ‘God’ as we know it probably doesn’t exist but we do have a creator or supreme being that one might say intervened along the way to make homosapiens intelligent, You will have greater enlightenment when you understand where Science and ‘God’ meet. Archaeology acts as the mediator for this. we know that the sumerians talked about ‘Those who from heaven to earth came’ (which some might refer to in their ignorant state of mind as aliens) but beings that taught mankind many things most importantly planetary alignment. the bible yes has some facts but there are a lot missing and it does make christians ‘overly spiritual’ thinking that ‘God’ cannot be seen, well guess what. those who wrote the books and lived before saw their creator. anyway what does all this have to do with a man having his head transplanted. Nothing…..just that there is no devine plan, we were created and given the ability to make decisions to shape our world however we see fit hence why some can destroy and some can choose to build but WE as humans rule this world because it was given to us

  • Just gonna throw this out there and see if the cat licks it up, does anybody know that old saying two heads are better than one. Well realistically two heads on one body would produce twice the brain power and therefore be the closest thing to a superhuman thus far. Besides the fact that if they ever got pissed off at each other it would be funny as shit watching them bite each others ears in retaliation.

  • God really created man in his image… Psalms 82:6
    I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most high.

    Don’t u think that God established the foundation and basis of creation and rested for we to build upon…
    Man in the real sense is showing forth the praises of HE (GOD) who has called us into his marvelous light of creation…

    More grease to ur elbows… we appreciate u guys while we give thanks to God for the RHEMA an Success granted.

  • Mr C. Waltz, inasmuch as you believe that the previous commenter is religious for insinuating that a successful head surgery is against the will of God, it would be quite inaccurate and offhanded to write that “Him/her and his/her brethren are a cancer on humanity’s progress.” A careful and meticulous study on christianity and its impact on the world will prove otherwise! Only biased individuals will agree with you, Mr C. Waltz.
    Also, as you were a former christian, certainly you should be, or might have been abreast of the fact that Belief does not affect Truth. No matter how you believe in your heart that the sun does not rise and set, it will rise and set. No matter how you believe that there is Time travel now, there just isn’t. Nobody can go back in time, NOW. There are things that are true, whether we know them or not, whether we believe them or not. You believe there is no God, great, I believe there is a God, and that He has a Son who died for all so they might escape their eternal fiery condemnation, ok. Since you pity religious people like us, let us wait and see who will be proved right. Just like the sun will always rise in the morning hour to all who believe and don’t believe, so will time reach its end and prove to all who believed there was a God, and to all who believed there wasn’t, if there really has been a God all this while, or not. I am ready for the time challenge, I hope you are, Mr C. Waltz.
    As for the innovation in surgery posted here, God allowed for the doctors to succeed in it. The real question is, what is their motive for this new discovery in medicine?

  • I think to bring a diety into the mix is seemingly foolish. The existence is not really all that important as the only proof is heresay, interpretation, circular thinking, and desperate hope. God is always spoken for. Big powerful and loving… yet plays criptic games? If there is a divine plan, simply state it vocally. Not in a man written document, not in signs, or visions. Just say, “Hello, I’m God, here’s the proof. Now, about what you should be doing.” I’d be all for it. Not some from the hip half cocked belief that an all powerful god can’t verbally just be straight forward. It’s silly. God will not kill me, because he does not exist. However some fanatic will probably shoot me because he believes he is doing some figment of his imagination’s will. Because the fanatics are very real

  • I’m still waiting for the day when people stop bringing their God or religious beliefs into conversation. Do people not get the fact that everyone has their own belief. I don’t want to turn this into a is God real battle. But for anyone level head, you’d think that they would think outside their brainwashed head and realise we are all different and don’t all follow the same bullshit.

    What they’ve done is incredible. Hard to believe. They did what many thought was the impossible. Let’s talk about that, not some fucking divine plan.

  • Science is just one of these doctrine that know just a fragment of the mystery of creation but think they know a great deal. hence, they tend to mislead the simple hearted one the believed not in the existence of God. But who am I to for God let him speak to everyone of you who didn’t believed he exist in a audible way to make known himself yo you. But still son of you are children of perdition and of reprobate mind as in Romans 1v17-23. read and find out what it says.

  • This man will be a new person right?, I mean like a hardware with only the basic firmware into which we need to install everything new… Or will he have his memories?, if so, it will destroy the very basic of modern science…

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