As of July, more than 100,000 people were on waiting lists for replacement organs, with 3,442 needing a new heart. Seventeen people on waiting lists die every day, for want of an organ to potentially save their lives. Is xenotransplantation – transferring animal organs to humans – the answer? Pigs are especially seen as potential donor animals because their hearts are anatomically similar to those of humans. A baboon was kept alive for two years with a pig heart. Likewise, researchers have transferred pig hearts to two brain-dead people to discover what reactions might occur.
Finally, in January of this year, doctors in Maryland tried to transplant a genetically-modified pig’s heart into a fifty-seven-year-old man who had terminal heart disease. He improved at first, only to die about two months later. Some medical researchers see animal organs only as a “bridge” to life while they wait for the availability of a human organ. Xenotransplantation is going to have medical advances in the years ahead which may save thousands of lives. Christians will need to be prepared to think through the ethical issues that this procedure generates.
Source: World Magazine, July 30, 2022, p. 16.