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Man receives genetically modified pig heart.
A man dying of heart disease has received a genetically modified pigs heart. He is still alive three days later and breathing on his own, but he is far from recovered.
It is unclear if he will recover. Nothing is certain about his future other than the fact that he was dying before the procedure.

There are some parameters here. The man was terminally ill and would have died soon. It was not an ordinary pigs heart. The pig had to be genetically modified for transplantation to a human to be even possible.

This is a complex issue ethically and medically. How far should we go to prolong life?
What are the ethical considerations of using animal parts for human transplantation? Is this a road we want to go down?
This article looks at some of the ethical issues.

It is not clear whether the transplant is medically going to work for this patient. However he has lasted three days. That guarantees that it will be done again. 
It is a field of research not going away. So we do need to look at it and ask if we really want to go in this direction.
Are there medical consequences that we are unaware of? If you were dying and this was the only way to survive, would you do it?

Do we have the right to use animals in this way? Does it set a bad precedent to grow  future organ donors for harvesting? If you want to see a movie that deals with how far things could go, I recommend The Island.

Do I like the idea of farms full of genetically modified pigs just waiting to have their organs harvested? Clearly some sort of facility exists because they had a heart already modified and full grown.
Just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.
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(01-13-2022, 05:22 PM)Catherine Wrote: Just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.
That sums it up very well. I find the idea of animal farms, full of genetically modified animals just waiting to be killed for an organ, truly terrifying. This is a road we should not go down - but I fear that it is already too late....
The fact that they had a pig's heart ready to use confirms that they are already "farming" pigs for transplants.
I don't like the idea. It is definitely a road we shouldn't go down. 

Transplant patients require a lot of immunosuppression even with a well matched organ from a human donor.
So transplantation itself is not the final answer. We need to follow a different line of research. We need to learn how to grow organs from the patient's own tissue or we need to find a way to regenerate  damaged organs. There are species that can regenerate any part of their body. That means it can be done. There must be something in their bodies that triggers the regeneration. If we can figure it out, we can restore a human organ without a lot of complicated organ rejection problems.

The axolotl (a type of salamander) can regenerate anything. I know someone with axolotls and I have seen them regrow their gills or any other part that gets damaged. Once regrown life goes on as usual.

This is rather technical, but it confirms that work is being done on organ regeneration.

Using a genetically modified pig's heart for transplant takes us further from a lasting solution for organ failure.
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I have a bit of an update on this story. The man died after 45 days. Was it really worth a pigs death for 45 days of life?

Also, a contributing factor was a pig virus that was present in the pig's heart.

Every species, every individual has viruses. Cross species transplants risk cross species movement of viruses. Who know what the consequences could be.
In this case, because transplant patients are on immunosuppressants, a virus that the pig lived with was enough to kill the human who got his heart.
This was not a random pig's heart. It was one specially bred for transplant to humans. 
I see a lot of medical resources going into a line research that has a lot of inherent problems.
It is not a direction we should be going. We should be looking for better ways to treat people, ways that would have more success and fewer ethical issues.
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I couldn't agree more, Catherine.
I read about this today.
I think it was a terrible idea. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those about nowadays.
Very sad for both the pig and the man.
The man was dying anyhow, but the pig was fine. It is because he was dying that the man agreed to such a risky procedure.
It is not really a free choice when you think you have no choice.

There are much better directions we could go with heart research. Sadly we will keep trying this over and over.
It is like animal testing.  Even though it doesn't work  we won't stop doing it.
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