Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov (July 18, 1916 – November 22, 1998) was a Soviet scientist and organ transplantation pioneer, who performed several transplants in the 1940s and 1950s, including the transplantation of a heart into an animal and a heart–lung replacement in an animal.
In February 1954, in arguably his most bizarre experiment, he transplanted a dog’s head onto another dog, using vascular connections to the host dog’s heart. Ignoring the condemnation from his critics, he continued with this particular line of experimentation, becoming more successful with time. His transplantation work was widely reported inside the Soviet Union, where it was continuously criticized for being unethical, but it was not until the late 1950s that news of his experiments spread to the outside world. In fact, by the time American surgeons became aware of Demikhov’s dog head transplantations in 1959, he had already been performing these procedures for five years.
Demikhov coined the word “transplantology”, meaning organ transplantation, in his 1960 monograph Experimental Transplantation of Vital Organs, for which he received his doctoral degree. Later translated into English (1962), German (1963) and Spanish (1967), this became a hugely influential publication for physicians interested in the emerging field of organ and tissue transplantation, and was for some considerable time the only monograph on the subject.