Xenotransplantation: Should we pursue the risk?
An argument against using animals for transplant organs.
Human organ and tissue transplantation (allotransplantation) is common surgery in the United States.The procedure is carried out in order to save the lives of individuals suffering organ failure and serious disease.Examples of this include kidney, heart, liver, and lung transplants."In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States estimated that approximately 48,000 people were on the waiting list for suitable organs for transplantation, and an estimated 3,000 people die each year in the US while waiting for suitable organs or tissue for transplantation."1 One possible alternative to human organ transplantation is xenotransplantation, using animal organs and tissues for transplantation in humans.
At this time, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in conjunction with the Public Health Service and Center for Disease Control are assessing the need for xenotransplantation and whether or not a balance between public health risk and the potential promise of a suitable organ and tissue source can be found.The main reason to continue xenotransplant research is the overwhelming demand for replacement human organs and tissues.The potential of human lives saved and diminishing human suffering is driving the demand for the research.Opponents of xenotransplantation argue that, although the need for more suitable organs is great, the risks outweigh the need.Arguments against research include scientific reasons and ethical considerations.
The idea of xenotransplantation is not a new concept.Experiments in xenotransplantation date back to 1905, but the majority of the attempts to transplant animal organs into humans have been made since the 1960's, aided by advances in the understanding of the immune system and the availability of new drugs.At this time possible xenograft candidate…