20th Century Russian Scientist Made a Dog With Two Heads. Vladimir Demikhov, a visionary of early transplant experimentation, conducted many such transplants throughout his career, which culminated in his creation of many two-headed dogs in the 1950’s. Beginning with heart and lung transplants between animals, he eventually set his sights on the more lofty goal of removing the head of a living dog and transplanting it onto another living dog.
Conducting this procedure more than twenty times, he generally used dogs of different breeds and usually, a small dog’s head was placed on a larger dog’s body, above its head. The smaller dog was generally not connected beyond veins and tissue, so while it may have the ability to consume liquid, it had no stomach and the drink was drained through a tube.
Multiple images of a number of these experiments exist, portraying the dogs surviving sometimes many days after the transplants, eating and drinking, and even walking around. None survived long term, however, with the longest pair living just 29 days post operation.
Demikhov’s final transplant of this nature was in 1959 and was even published in Life magazine. Demikhov is cited as an inspiration and mentor to prominent transplant surgeons, including the surgeon, Christiaan Barnard, who conducted the first ever human heart transplant. Demikhov’s published studies were groundbreaking in his field, and for some time was the dominant source of “transplantology” research, although the idea of transplanting dogs heads is not original. In 1908, a French surgeon and his partner were also able to create a two-headed dog, however, it had to be put down within hours.
Demikhov died in 1998, but the images remain as proof of his strange experiments and provide a window into the medical practices of the time. Today, some surgeons still possess the desire to transplant heads and in China, where they have more freedom, hope to proceed someday soon with human head transplants. While many in the medical community believe it is a far-fetched scheme, others believe it is, in fact, a possibility. It remains to be seen whether or not the humans in this experiment survive any longer than the unlucky dogs.