In many societies around the world today, there are many patients that have numerous organ failures, and they are desperate for organ transplants. According to organdonor, a website with information on organ transplants and donations by the US government, as of January 2019, more than 100,000 patients are waiting for organ transplants, while approximately 20 patients die daily. This is a critical problem which many individuals should be addressing. However, thinking realistically, not everyone would be so generous to offer their organs for free; they have to survive for themselves as well. Therefore, an ingenious solution arose: xenotransplantation.
What is xenotransplantation? Xenotransplantation is any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation, or infusion of an organ from a nonhuman animal source into a human recipient. Xenotransplantation is a splendid idea that would save millions of lives without sacrificing the organs of individuals. Nevertheless, the idea of xenotransplantation incites many thoughts about what is truly righteous, in an ethical and a calculative sense, for us, the most intelligent species on Earth, to do.
Xenotransplantation has been researched by scientists all over the world since the early 1900s. The first experiment was in 1838, when Richard Kissam conducted a corneal xenotransplantation from a pig into a patient. However, due to numerous instances of failures, the research of xenotransplantation was banned for many decades.
Then, in 1963, Thomas Starzl was the first man to continue what had been started. He discovered that the most suitable organs for humans were either baboons or pigs, due to the fact that they had similar organs, compared with humans. Today, the organs are genetically altered with human genes to trick a human’s immune system to accept it as its own.
Researching for a new solution of organ transplants is a fine thing, a majority would say. However, thinking from an ethical perspective, some would argue why animals have to be test subjects for our own benefit.
First of all, animals are also living things, and just like us, they deserve a right to live. By becoming a test subject, they could experience physical and psychological discomfort. Just because humans have more authority and power over animals, as we have more intelligence, it is immoral and unjust to abuse them as if they were just simple tools for our development.
In addition, the research of xenotransplantation goes against ethics and morals. Many religions disagree with the idea of xenotransplantation; animals are worshipped as sacred objects in a multitude of them. For example, in Hinduism, it is forbidden to kill a cow, as it is worshipped as a sacred animal. In Judaism, it is extremely impious and immoral to consume any part of a pig. Although xenotransplantation is for the future of humans, it is essential to listen to the opinions of religions, which have great influences around the world.
|[The monkey that survived a pig-heart transplant for 51 days. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20161116000700&ACE_SEARCH=1]
To conclude, not many individuals could say that xenotransplantation is either truly beneficial or detrimental for society and for animals. If a solution could be introduced, millions of lives will be saved by the unintentional generosity of pigs and baboons. However, until that time comes, many problems concerning religious beliefs and animals rights will arise. In the end, we can only hope that the solution to xenotransplantation will be soon discovered in the near future, for the sake of humans and animals.
|[Thousands of pigs such as the one shown are sacrificed for the research of xenotransplantation. Photo Credits: PublicDomainPictures]
International School of Kigali
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