Monday, January 31, 2022

X rated

 There was a lot of conversation this past week regarding xenotransplantation on NPR. Now the science is very interesting, but I’m more interested in the the ethical side of things. While I believe the transplant of a brain from animal to human would certainly be beneficial to most humans, it doesn’t appear to be a procedure that will happen anytime soon. First, a little background is in order. Recently, a genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a brain dead human. I’m not certain that this does not describe most humans, but I think it referred to medical brain death. This was apparently a major step forward, in that the organ itself was not rejected by the recipients body. This finding paves the way for future clinical trials. At another hospital recently, a genetically modified pig heart was transplanted into a human recipient. The surgeon involved was very excited to see the new pig heart beating in the open chest of the recipient. When asked about the ethics, his response struck me as somewhat noble, but haughty. He seemed to say that he would gladly.sacrifice the life of the pig in order to save the life of the human. His response caused in me a great deal of genuine concern. While I have had only a modicum of quality time with pigs (the porcine variety), I remain firmly convinced that pigs are much more intelligent than most humans, and I think any human who has read Charlotte’s Web would agree with me. In fact, I think most people who have only seen the animated adaptation of the book would agree with me as well. The point is that I’m not certain that the medical needs of humans exceed the living needs of pigs, even cloned pigs.

This leads me to a brief discussion of xenotes, sometimes spelled ‘cenotes’. Xenotes are actually very deep sinkholes filled with water, created by the collapse of limestone bedrock. Despite my recent introduction to rappelling, I doubt that i would attempt the descent into a xenote, though many have. Most are very deep, and I’m pretty sure the fall would kill me. Many of the brave who have descended into these sinkholes, have discovered myriads of skeletal remains, apparently the sacrificial remnants of the Aztecs, or the Toltec, or some other long gone civilization. The point is…I don't want any xenotes filled with the sacrificial remains of pigs. You may ask yourself…How can fallen angel justify this viewpoint? So, I’ll just tell you! Kidney disease is not necessarily created by the drinking habits of cretinous humans. It is more often the result of diabetes, which occurs in many species. Still, I’m certain that this might be lessened if insulin didn’t bear an almost mind numbing cost per dose. Heart disease is most often created by excessive and damaging behaviors of humans. The prevalence of both diseases is amplified by the stupid, excessive behaviors of humans. So, I just don’t believe that the need for transplants, worsened by ignoring the warning signs, justify taking the life of pigs to save the lives of people who exacerbated their own disease. It is only human haughtiness that believes human life is more dear than pig life. That being said, if someone I care deeply about was faced with a pig organ being his/her only option, I would gladly stick the pig myself!

Many other X words spring to mind in order to lengthen this post…xenophobia, for instance…maybe even xylophone…but these would only stir my need to rant even longer. So, I will leave you with one final thought. Hats off to the doctors who removed that unvaccinated guy from the heart transplant list! His choice left death as his only option, and while I feel great sadness for those he will leave behind, I think he would have been better off with a xenograft of a brain!