An Australian doctor conducted a series of extraordinary experiments where he grafted monkey testicles onto dozens of men in a bizarre quest to find the fountain of youth in the 1930s. 

Henry Leighton Jones – once an eminent health practitioner in the Northern Territory, he performed numerous operations that involved grafting the testicles and the ovaries from monkeys onto human glands at a New South Wales small hospital.

The unusual, often unorthodox experiments that were made in the new field of endocrinology — a medicine branch that deals with hormones (glands and hormones) – could be the answer to human longevity.

Although the tales about ‘Monkey Jones are far from popular folklore there are many who believe he is a pioneer in medical medicine who was not given the proper recognition. 

Dr Henry Leighton-Jones (pictured) conducted bizarre experiments where he grafted monkey testicles onto men in a quest to find a fountain of youth during the 1930s

Henry Leighton Jones (pictured), conducted bizarre experiments that involved grafting monkey testicles on men to try and find the fountain of youth in the 1930s.

Henry Jones, a 14-year-old boy, was born near Newcastle in NSW. In 1868, he left school to start work in a local coal mine as a mail clerk. 

Lucky for him, his family discovered a coal seam beneath their farm. When the property was sold off, he used part of his inheritance to travel to America and study dentistry in Kentucky. 

Then he went to Britain to join the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians and Glasgow Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons. This gave him a license to practice medicine in New South Wales. 

He was either living in America or Britain when he met Leighton, an American girl. Leighton became his best friend and incorporated the name into his life. 

After returning to NSW, he was a doctor, dentist and pharmacist for 10 years before assuming the position of Northern Territory government medical officer.

After war broke out, he served a brief stint in the Pacific as an Australian Army Medical Corps Reserve captain. 

In 1928 at age 60, he quit his government job and moved south to Eraring in Lake Macquarie. He began his pursuit of endocrinology. This was an entirely new field. 

In 2007, Dr Herbert Copeman, a retired surgeon, stated to the SMH: “He was a serious scientist.” 

Dr Copeman, who has held the positions of Honorary Consultant in General Medicine and Endocrinology at Royal Perth Hospital and  President of the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine in Australia, was one of the few surgeons who have taken an interest in Dr Jones’ work, describing him as  ‘an honourable, hard-working, brilliant man’. 

After Dr Jones studied endocrinology, he sought out Serge Voronoff (Russian doctor), who was director of experimental surgery at College de France. 

Voronoff worked previously as the Khedive General in Egypt. Voronoff noticed that Egyptian eunuchs grew older faster than the rest of the population, leading him to believe that it was the role played by testicles in our aging process. 

Already performing gland transplantations on animals like sheep or goats, which involves transplanting one slice of gland in the other animal’s gland. When Dr Leighton-Jones first arrived at his door.

Dr Voronoff took Voronoff in, and the two spent several months together learning the technique.

According to some reports, the Russian later made a modest fortune by transferring glands from poor Europeans to baboons.

However, his ideas were highly controversial. His peers ridiculed him and dismissed them in the 1920s.

Dr Leighton-Jones conducted multiple operations where he grafted the testicles and ovaries of monkeys onto humans but died of a heart attack before he could present his findings

He performed multiple surgeries where he transplanted the testicles, ovaries and testes of monkeys on humans. But Dr Leighton Jones died before he was able to present his findings.

In 1929, Dr Jones and Dr Voronoff returned to NSW with Nora Elizabeth Barrett (Dr Voronoff’s English secretary) – she was in her early twenties. They later got married. 

The next ten years would see Dr Jones conduct experiments in gland grafting. However, unlike Dr Voronoff and others, he preferred Rhesus monkeys.

After forming a friendship at a Singapore medical conference, he would seek out the monkeys in Malaysia from Sultan of Johor. 

They would then be transported to his farm and placed in a water tank. 

Jackie Parker, a boy who delivered bread to the neighborhood, said that he remembers the old water tank measuring about 30 feet in height. 

“He replaced the corrugated steel with cyclonewire and kept the monkeys there. “I remember looking up to see the monkeys playing in that room.

The monkeys are often seen in the wild, escaping from their homes and doing strange things like tapping the windows of confused townspeople. 

Doug Saxon, author of a book titledAn Historical History of Eraring, and Its School Even back in those days, headlines focused on the doctor’s assistants and their achievements. 

To assist him in his surgeries, Dr Leighton Jones had assembled a team that included a surgeon and two anaesthetists. 

Saxon stated that he tried to balance his account and keep the work of Mr. Saxon in perspective.Newcastle Herald. 

He added that people tended to put an incredulous ’21st century spin’ on Dr Leighton-Jones’ work but that in his day he was a pioneer of the field. 

The A.B.O. was used to test blood types. The A.B.O. system was used to test blood types for monkeys and humans. 

The Rhesus Factor, a second type of blood system not yet understood by the public at large, was deemed particularly helpful because it gave the doctor a good chance that the Rhesus Factor would also match.

Volunteers would write to Dr Leighton-Jones and ask him to perform the procedure, involving the transplanting a small slice of the Rhesus monkey donor gland, in an effort to restore their vitality. 

The article in Mr Saxon’s book is a 1939 piece by Dr Leighton Jones, which refutes claims that Dr Voronoff and he were primarily sexual. 

His mentor Dr Leighton Jones said that he believed everyone should be capable of reaching 100 years old. 

An article by Dr Copeman appearing in the Medical Journal of Australia in the late 1970s described Dr Leighton-Jones as ‘a well educated and very experienced doctor, dentist and pharmacist’.

The article claimed Dr Leighton-Jones work was aimed at treating ‘cretins, and others thought to be deficient in hormones’.  

“He did about half a dozen of the following ovarian transplants. One time he used an ovary from a pregnant monkey. Another time he performed 30 testicular surgery on patients between 24 and 72 years old. 

Dr Jones maintained regular contact with his patients. Many reported that they experienced ‘a remarkable increase in well-being’ and some returned to have a second surgery. 

Even Dr Voronoff performed a graft operation on him after he came back to France. 

Dr Leighton-Jones retired to Lake Macquarie in NSW where he conducted his research and medical experiments (pictured)

Dr Leighton-Jones, a retired doctor in NSW, moved to Lake Macquarie where he did his medical research (pictured). 

After publishing nothing about his work, he finally was convinced by his wife to put together his detailed records in a research document. 

On the exact day that he was scheduled to give a lecture at Newcastle Hospital’s postgraduate seminar on 1943 and present the findings from his decade of research, Dr Leighton Jones, who was then 74 years old, died of a heart attack. 

Nora, Nora’s wife in his grief, respected his wish that privacy be maintained for his patients and burned his only paper.

Daily Mail Australia spoke to Professor Leigh Delbridge about Dr Leighton Jones, one of Australia’s top endocrine specialists.

Professor Delbridge stated that although it appeared as though the doctor was decades ahead in some areas, the actual application of monkey gland transfer would have had no impact on the longevity of his patients. 

Professor Delbridge explained that “I spent the bulk of my surgical career transplanting hormone glands in routine surgery.”

He stated that only two of these surgeries are performed: ‘Parathyroid autotransplantation,’ in which cells are transplanted from the same person and ‘islet transplantation,’ where pancreas tissue is taken from another individual. 

He said that the monkey’s testicular tissue was a xenograft, which means that cells from other species are transferred to it. The cells don’t survive very long. 

It is possible to establish a basis for the principles of endocrine-glands transplantation. But it would not work using xenografts during an era that was before immunosuppression drugs.

“Probably no harm would come from it, other than to your hip pocket.” 

Locals of Eraring’s Dora Creek are well aware of this tale. However, it serves as an interesting piece in the history of Eraring.  

Dr Copeman says that ‘1938 was actually the beginning of understanding hormones. It was when a man from America realized estrogens and orrogens altered the comb formation in chickens.

“Dr Jones” was Australia’s first endocrinologist. Because he didn’t publish anything or delivered any papers, endocrinologists here completely disregard him. He said that it was not known exactly what he would say in Newcastle.