Understanding Xenotransplantation And Its Usefulness Biology Essay


Who would have thought that baboons with pink buts will save human lives? Yet it is already occurring in some parts of the world. As most of the people already have experienced it, women as well as men tend to insult each other by addressing each other as an animal; for example, pig, cow, chicken or dog, are some of the frequently used terms. Xenotransplantation is actually making it true because it is the transplantation of cells, tissue or organs from animals to the human. This scientific breakthrough is not just another solution to patients in need of organ, but a long term answer to diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson. The first attempts were in 1964 where "one patient survived 9 months after receiving a chimpanzee kidney. The kidney was excised post mortem and showed no sign of rejection" (Hansen 49). Another one was in 1983 when a newborn child had a heart transplant from a Baboon, and lived for 20 more days (Wilcox 163). Since most of the success candidates were just experimental success stories, financial support for Xenotransplantation has been going up and down; on the other hand, according to a PBS video coverage, it has the support of all religions all over the world (Xenotransplantation Episode no. 621). As the need of human organs is increasing a lot faster than the increase of human organ donors, Xenotransplantation provides one of the handiest modern solutions doctors have; moreover, animals are easier to control, so they can build a living stock of animal donors available worldwide; however, one of science biggest obstacles is that Xenotransplantation has its risks like spreading animals disease in the long term.

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People want to be passionate and feel sorry for the families that lost a member at the September Eleven Event, buy why it always have to be a disaster, something bad happening, that makes the people open their hearts, brake the barriers of race and cultures? Even though many people would agree it is wrong, this is something that happens every day. At the September Eleven Event, over two thousand nine hundred people died, which is less than half the people that die every year because the organ shortage (Animal-to-human transplantation: Should Canada proceed?). Do all candidates in need of an organ have to die in one day in order to make difference, to give a wakeup call to the world? Fortunately there are people that fight for them, and do their best to save their lives. These people are not just doctors but also people in politics. It is the folk help these patients need. Even though these people work hard to help the candidates, the gap between the organ donors and the ones in need of organ is increasing every year. While the number of organ donors has increased with over 30% in the last year, the number of the people on the waiting list for the right organs has doubled. "About 3 out of 10 of these people die before an organ becomes available" (Animal-to-human transplantation: Should Canada proceed?).Organ transplantation is like playing the lottery. Candidates have to find donors with a perfect match of the organ they need to replace otherwise the body would just reject it. This means that even if the number of donors will increase over the year, it would not be a solution for all the candidates in need of a transplant. Moreover, a big part of the organ donors are actually cadaver donors, who are people whose brain died in an accident, but their organs are still intact and "alive". Can a country reside just on the number of cadaver donors for their transplant? Do candidates have to wish for other people to die in order to increase their chances of finding the right organ match? No, this is not right. For now, no other solution but Xenotransplantation has proven to have good results, even on humans.

Artificial organs are still far from a reasonable result, but Xenotransplantation has proven some big success; one of them is the cure for Parkinson, Jim Finn being a living example. He was injected with pig brain cells to replace his bad ones, and six years after the surgery he is still fine, and has no problem since the transplant surgery as reported by a PBS Video Interview (Xenotransplantation, Episode no. 621). Since the waiting list for organs is increasing every year and the numbers of organs donors is very unpredictable, Xenotransplantation might be able to put an end to the race between life and death, a lottery that most governments and societies play with real human lives. Why Xenotransplantation and something else? Many people question it because of the process of killing animals, the mutation needed in order to get the right organs from the animals, the fear of the diseases that humans might collect trough the transplants, and most of all the fear of not being able to make the animal organ 100% compatible with the candidates needs. However, Xenotransplantation has proven that it can have success, even if all the success cases were just experimental, and some of them were effective for a short period of time. Xenotransplantation has shown positive results while other solutions to organ transplants have shown a lot less. In addition, using animals for transplantation is approved and supported by all religion while other solution like stem cells and cloning are banned in some religions. Since Stem cells and artificial organs are far from being anywhere near positive success, Xenotransplantation is handiest modern solution doctors have; moreover animals can be controlled and genetically modified to the doctors need to save the candidates lives.

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Animals are humanity's most important tool for survival. Humans use animals as tools on the field, back in the days humans used animals for transportation, today we progressed to machineries, but most of the machineries were based on previous model that were operated with the help of heavy duty animals, like bulls and horses. Nowadays people use the animals as examples to understand different things, for example, observing birds and their aerodynamics. People use bloodsuckers in surgery as there is no better suction system available yet. But most importantly human have always used animals for food. Animals are our only source of food, since humans are more carnivores than vegetarian. With the Xenotransplantation, came up also the idea of breaking the animal's right in order to use them for this process. Humans eat animals and they raise the animals almost the same way as the ones used for Xenotransplantation, but nobody objects on the domestic animals. Xenotransplantation is a good solution for the world of transplantations because animals are very easy to control, and research is easier to do on animals than directly on human. Work can progress a lot faster, with little or no concern. Animals, like pigs for example, have a similar body structure as humans; therefore, Pigs are used in numerous attempts on transplanting pigs' organ to apes or monkeys, which also have a similar body structure to humans. Most of the cases of organ transplants have failed due to organ rejection, but a numerous attempts on cell transplantation have succeeded, of which Jim Finn is a living example. Pigs grow very fast and there are numerous factories that breed pigs for food; therefore, there will be fewer problems on how to house, or stock the living organ donors, genetically modified pigs. Although animals seem to be a simple solution, rejection is not the only problem Xenotransplantation is facing; there are a lot of other numerous risks to be taken in consideration.

Xenotransplantation has provided a lot of good arguments regarding its usefulness, but there are always factors to be considered, there are certain risks. Transplantation has been facing the risk of organ rejection by the candidates, even though, the organs perfectly matched. Xenotransplantation brings some other risks and factors. The main risk is to transfer animal diseases to humans through Xenotransplantation, and humans actually spread it farther between them. There are certain diseases that pigs have and which humans will not be able to deal with; therefore a lot of researchers are concerned about Xenotransplantation, while the other researchers that actually develop this type of Xenotransplantation argue that they have genetically modified the pigs, so that the pigs will not develop this type of diseases, or any other one. Dr. David Cooper, a Transplant Surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, says: "You can never say there is no risk, but my feeling is that if you've ruled out every known risk, you may have to take a leap into the unknown" (Xenotransplantation, Episode no. 621). Since this is risk is too big, researchers have to dig more into this problem so that it could actually make it to the Clinics as a normal therapy, but it is still closer to a result than the other solutions, like artificial organs are. While time runs out on most of the candidates waiting for an organ, Xenotransplantation might be there only hope for the near future.

Assuming that the risks of long term diseases are left out, genetically modified animals are a good solution to the world of transplants. "Major religious traditions have generally supported xenotransplants, (…) Judaism and Islam (...). And the Vatican, which strongly opposes using stem cells from human embryos, supports the idea of animal organs in transplants" (Xenotransplantation, Episode no. 621).This means that Xenotransplantation is a step ahead of all the other solutions, which will help it improve its chances of getting into clinics as normal therapies. However, most of the religions oppose stem cell, and cloning of any sort which would provide other solutions for transplantation. Therefore other solution might have a problem getting into hospitals as normal solutions; for sure it will be an obstacle for them and that means more time for approval, time that the patients do not have. Based on the statistics mentioned in the beginning of this essay, time is a vital point for the increasing number of the people in need of organ donation. In addition, Xenotransplantation is one of the most reasonable solutions for the near future.

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Work Cited

"Animal-to-human transplantation: Should Canada proceed?" Public Consultation on Xenotransplantation. N.pag. Online.17 November 2008. <http://www.xeno.cpha.ca/english/bigissue/backgrnd.htm>.

Hansen, Brian. "Organ Shortage." CQ Researcher 13.7 (2003): 153-176. CQ Researcher Online. 24 April 2010. <http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2003022100>.

Lundin, Susan. "The Boundless Body: Cultural Perspectives on Xenotransplantation." Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 64.1 (1999): 5-31. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 1 May 2010.

Wilcox, Sara. "(Medically Speaking) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Xenotransplantation". Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia Fall 2003. 49-52. BioTeach Online Journal. 24 April 2010. <http://www.bioteach.ubc.ca/Journal/V01I01/4952xenotransplant.pdf >.

"Xenotransplantation." Educational Broadcasting Corporation. N.pag. January 24 2003: s

Episode no. 621. Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. Online. 24 April 2010. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week621/cover.html>