We list the most incredible medical breakthroughs made this year, and each of them is a gift that will save millions of lives.

11. Solutions to the organ shortage

11. Solutions to the organ shortage

A groundbreaking new method of safely reviving frozen organs promises to save millions of lives by significantly addressing the critical shortage of organs available for donation.

A research team out of the University of Minnesota has discovered a process to successfully rewarm large-scale animal heart valves and blood vessels preserved at very low temperatures.

The discovery is a major step forward in saving millions of human lives by increasing the availability of organs and tissues for transplantation through the establishment of tissue and organ banks, according to a press release by the University of Minnesota.

Bonus discovery: New research in the field of organ transplantation has opened up the possibility of pigs becoming organ donors in the not-so-distant future.


12. Head transplantation

12. Head transplantation

It may sound wacky, but Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, MD, claims to be on track to complete the first-ever transplantation of a human head to different body.

A 31-year-old Russian man suffering from spinal muscular atrophy has volunteered to be the first person to undergo the surgery, which Dr. Canavero pitched to the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons in the hopes of convincing surgeons to assist him in this risky procedure, ideally before the end of this year.

According to a study published in the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, Dr. Canavero and a team of Chinese doctors severed the spinal cords of 15 rats and attempted to reattach nine of them.

All but one of the rats survived for an “astonishing 30 days” after the experiment.

It’s still unknown whether Dr. Canavero has been able to recruit enough support to perform the surgery on the Russian man, so stay tuned for updates.

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