How did Vladimir Demikhov create a dog with two heads?

People still believe that Dr Vladimir Demikhov He played the role of God in his many attempts to create a bicep; But his experiment made a great contribution to medical science and organ transplantation. All this happened while the Cold War had just started; Therefore, the Western world changed this scientific news, which was written in Russian, in any way it wanted.

Dr. Vladimir Demikhov was a pioneering surgeon who tried to find better ways to reduce the mortality rate of common surgeries. He also proved to the world that it is possible to link a foreign entity to another entity. Many surgeons refer to Demikhov as the “Father of Transplant Surgery”.

Even before his two-headed dog, Demikhov was a pioneer in the field of organ transplantation. After transplanting a number of vital organs between dogs who were his favorite subjects, he wanted to see if he could go a step further and transplant a dog’s head into another healthy dog’s body.

Dr. Vladimir Demikhov with a two-headed dog / Vladimir Demikhov

Dr. Vladimir Demikhov with his two dogs

In 1948, Demikhov was trying to prove that the circulatory system of an organism was strong enough to support another foreign organism. In this example, the foreign organism was another head; Because the brain needs a lot of blood and oxygen to function properly. In the same year, he wrote commentaries on the “combination of two animals by creating a single blood circulation by means of surgery”.

Demikhov never considered what people thought or said about his experiment; Because he did all these things in the name of science and pursued the goal of finding better alternatives for people who have problems with their organs. This procedure inspired the first successful human-to-human heart transplant in 1967.

impossible task

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At the time, as you can imagine, due to the few technical advances in medical science, such a procedure seemed impossible to most people, and even famous surgeons thought Demikhov was crazy to think such a procedure was possible.

Since 1954, Demikhov and his colleagues have performed this surgery 23 times with varying degrees of success. The twenty-fourth surgery was not their most successful attempt; But it faced a lot of advertisements and an article and pictures of it were published in LIFE Magazine. Therefore, this two-headed dog is the dog that has remained the most in history.

For his 24th attempt, Demikhov chose two different subjects: a German Shepherd that Demikhov named Brodyaga (meaning stray in Russian) and a smaller dog that he named Shauka. In this practice, Brodyaga acted as the host and Shauka acted as the supply dog ​​of the head and neck, which was attached to the host.

The idea was to cut off Shawka’s lower body and keep his heart and lungs connected to his body until the last minute before the operation. Then, an incision was made on the neck of Brodyaga to attach the upper part of the body of the Shauka, which included the head, neck, and upper limbs. The rest of the surgery was mostly revascularization.

Laboratory assistant feeding a two-headed dog

Lab assistant Maria Terkhova helps renowned Russian surgeon Dr. Vladimir Demikhov feed the two-headed dog.

Two-Headed Dog Vladimir Demikhov / Two-Headed Dog

Laboratory assistants of Vladimir Demikhov feed a two-headed dog made of Brodyaga and Shauka after surgery.

After a day of recovery, both dogs, or rather the two dogs, were in good condition. This operation took only 3.5 hours and after a one-day recovery, the two-headed dog, or more precisely, both heads, recovered their senses (hearing, smell, feeling and taste). Although Shauka’s transplanted head could drink, it was not attached to Brodyaga’s stomach. Everything he drank went into an external tube and flowed onto the floor.

The sad fate of Demikhov’s poodle

Unfortunately, Demikhov’s two-headed dog survived only four days due to an accidental injury to the jugular vein. According to Demikhov, if this had not happened, this dog could have lived up to 40 days. One of Demikhov’s two-headed dogs survived for 29 days.

Consequences of the Demikhov experiment

Apart from the death of the tested dogs, the ethical implications of Demikhov’s experiment are complex. This head transplant, unlike some of his other developments in the field of organ transplants, had no real application. However, it had severe consequences for the dogs. Of course, such experiments opened the eyes to the possibilities of the medical field and created the idea that the impossible is only a boundary set by society.

However, as outrageous as this may seem, head transplants were not that groundbreaking even in the 1950s. In 1908, a surgery named after Dr Alexis Carl and his colleague, Charles Guthrie, had done a similar act. Their two-headed dog showed promising results; Although he died within a few hours after the operation.

nowadays, Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, believes that head transplantation will be realized in the near future. He is involved in the first human effort to be carried out in China. However, most members of the medical community believe that such a link is still the stuff of science fiction; But in the not too distant future, this type of surgery may become a reality.

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