Defining Success: Assessing the Feasibility of Pig-to-Human Transplantation

Ololade Olakanmi, Grinnell College

Winner, 2003 essay contest

In light of the severe shortage of transplantable organs, scientists have been seriously considering using pigs as potential organ donors. In the past, pig-to-human transplantation was an idle hope, but with recent advances researchers have been able to develop this procedure into a potential therapy. However, the utilization of this procedure also begets a multitude of moral, ethical and biological dilemmas which must be addressed if animal-to-human transplantation is ever to become a clinical reality. In this essay I will enumerate and attempt to rationally reach a conclusion on many of the dilemmas that encircle the issue of cross-species transplantation. I will especially focus on many of the biological concerns. Furthermore, I will argue that before pig-to-human transplantation is implemented, the scientific community must agree on the degree of laboratory ?success? necessary for this procedure to advance into clinical trials.

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