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Xenotransplantation

Xenotransplantation


Xenotransplantation is transplanting an organ or tissue from one species to another. A shortage of human body parts available for allotransplantation (transplantation to other humans) has increased interest in this alternative. Since the 1960s, attempts at xenotransplantation have been made using chimpanzee kidneys, baboon hearts and livers, and pig hearts and livers. Present efforts focus on pigs rather than primates, as pigs reach maturity and reproduce quicker than primates, and pigs are not an endangered species. While pig heart valves are used successfully to repair human hearts, xenotransplantation remains in limited clinical trials. The genetic modification of animals has the potential for reducing human rejection and the danger of transmitting dangerous pathogenic agents. Some researchers have suggested that the transplantation of pig organs to humans may be possible within five years.

How religions evaluate the morality of xenotransplantation hinges on views of animals in the created order. For example, Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, believes that xenotransplantation can be justified in certain circumstances since humans have a higher dignity than the animals that serve them. Moral limits, however, preclude transplantation of the encephalon and gonads that are linked indissolubly by their function with the personal identity of humans.


See also Animal Rights; Biotechnology; Christianity, Roman Catholic, Issues in Science and Religion; Cloning

Bibliography

clark, m. a. "this little piggy went to market: the xenotransplantation and xenozoonose debate." journal of law, medicine, and ethics 27 (1999): 137152.


cooper, david k. c., and lanza, robert p. xeno: thepromise of transplanting animal organs into humans. new york: oxford university press, 2000.


hanson, m. j. "the seductive sirens of medical transplantation: the case of xenotransplantation." hastings center report 25 (1995): 56.


international xenotransplantation society. available from http://www.ixa2001chicago.com.

mccarthy, charles r. "a new look at animal-to-humanorgan transplantation." kennedy institute of ethics journal 6, no. 2 (1996): 183188.


pontifical academy for life. "prospects for xenotransplantation: scientific aspects and ethical considerations." september 26, 2001. available from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/.

who electronic discussion group (edg) on internationalxenotranplantation policy considerations. available from http://www.who.int/emc/diseases/zoo/meetings/xenodg.html.


donna m. mckenzie

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xenotransplantation

xenotransplantation (zen-oh-trans-plahn-tay-shŏn) n. the transplantation of organs from one species into another.

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