organ transplants

mhollowa at mhollowa at
Wed Jun 8 13:10:18 EST 1994

In article <2t4k7v$n6b at> frazer at albnyvms.bitnet writes:

>1.  Do you think that organs should be transplanted from animals to humans, as 
>occurred in the Baby Fae case?

This case was an experiment.  You should be certain that you clearly 
understand the difference between treatment and experimentation.  
Animal model studies of xenotransplants didn't completely prepare 
transplant surgeons for the problems they faced in the first human 
xenotransplants.  The next human experiments are going to be 
examined very closely to see if they have something new to offer 
before they're permitted.  You should do some research on the 
ethical concerns in human biomedical experiments.

Whether organs should ever be transplanted from animals to humans is 
a separate question with alot of "what ifs" involved, the main one 
being "What if it can ever be done successfully?"

>2.  Do you think that organs should be transplanted from a anencephalic
>baby who is expected to die within one week, in order to make it possible
>for another baby to live? 

If a cultural and legal concensus can be reached that would provide 
clear guidelines of when and how these babies could be declared 
brain dead, yes.  It doesn't look very hopeful now.

There are more interesting and useful questions that could be asked 
about organ transplantation and ways that the organ donor shortage 
can be alleviated.  Xenotransplants will require much more work 
before they're feasible (if ever).  Even if clear guidelines of when 
an anencephalic baby is brain dead can be legally developed, and the 
public accepted them, the number of anencephalic babies donating 
organs will be small and won't make much difference for the babies 
on the waiting list for whom organs won't be found.

Changes in our organ procurement system, and in the ways the public 
receives information about organ donation, have a much greater 
chance of making a difference.  You can find some of these issues 
discussed in three papers that are available through gopher and WWW:

Point your gopher at: 

                Port:           7000

The "Organ and tissue transplant information" submenu is under "Biomedical 
disciplines and specific diseases/diseases and disorders".

For those using World Wide Web the URL is:

The papers are in the "ethical issues" subdirectory.  If you don't 
have access to gopher I'll mail the papers to you.

Mike Holloway
mhollowa at

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