The latest science technology has allowed us to grow human organs in other animals for human transplantation. Now this is quite a controversial topic. KQED has created a DoNowU for students and anyone interested in commenting on the latest news, science, and research based on this topic.
Check out the page here: Should Pigs Be Used to Grow Human Organs?
If you don’t already know how the process works, here is some background information about transplantation with pigs in a video from BBC that briefly explains the process.
There are many bioethical issues concerning this method of growing organs for human purposes, mainly revolving around the sanctity of life for all living beings. Because this is such a new field of science and not many trials have been performed, researchers don’t know what to expect as side effects. Scientists say pigs could develop human-like brains. Within less than a month, the pig embryos are killed to prevent the creation of pig-human hybrids. So in essence, these pigs are born just for the sake of growing human organs. However, a perfect growth of organs and smooth transplantation is not guaranteed. Many errors may occur with the interference of the pig’s own immune system and DNA to kill the human cells intruding the pig’s body.
With all of these negative drawbacks, people are still considering growing organs in pigs for human reasons. Growing organs in pigs decreases the number of people waiting and dying for an organ donor significantly. In addition, the human body supposedly won’t face rejection from the organ because the organ is composed of the body’s own cells. Otherwise, the patient usually must take immune system suppressing medication to prevent the body from attacking foreign cells.
As for my opinion, I can’t fully support one side or another. For the sake of pig’s and the sanctity of life, I don’t think humans are so much important than other animals that we could breed pig embryos only for human’s sake. This really is just murder. What makes murdering an animal acceptable, while we shame homicide amongst each other?
While humans may see organ transplantation as a necessity, is it really? We complain that we have too many people on this planet. We say that we are stretching the earth’s capacity to house all 7 billion of us. But isn’t this just another part of that process? I feel like there is such a contradiction with us extending the lives of humans, but ruining our planet simultaneously.
At the same time, I have a tendency to be insensitive, especially to other’s feelings and situations. If I or someone close to me were in the situation where one of us needed an organ transplant, I would desperately want the organ. I can’t say if I would take an organ from a pig, but if I had no option, the least I can say right now is that I would leave a pig-grown organ as my last choice.
The main overarching message is that humans are selfish, no matter how hard we try not to be. We can’t be blamed; it’s just our nature. But our job as analytical, cognitive, and logical beings is to stop ourselves from getting carried away.
Still interested in reading more? Check out these articles for more information:
Your Genome: What is CRISPR-Cas9?
National Geographic: Human-Pig Hybrid Created in the Lab – Here are the Facts