And the second angel poured his vial upon the sea, and it became as the blood of a dead man. -- Apocalypse, Book of Revelations
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me Man, did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me ... ? -- Milton, Paradise Lost
This is a big mistake. It only takes one transmission from one baboon to one human to start an epidemic. There's no way you can make it safe. -- Jonathan Allen, virologist
Defensive reactions depend on a multitude of additional biochemical and physiological factors. One of these is the presence of natural congenital antibodies, which are a vital element of the immune system - yet they still turn out to be shrouded in mystery. -- Claus Hammer, xenotransplant expert
Torture is useless because it makes people confess to crimes they never committed. Vivisection is equally useless because animals have nothing to confess. However, it does serve to confess human stupidity. -- Pietro Croce, leading Italian pathologist
I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil. -- Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic
Cowardice asks is it safe? Expedience asks is it political? Vanity asks is it popular? But the conscience asks is it right. -- Martin Luther King
When Dr Christian Barnard carried out the first heart transplants in South Africa it was hailed as a major breakthrough once the problem of immuno-rejection could be overcome. Others could see that transplants were not the panacea that was being claimed, as the technique required an unlimited supply of viable organs which could only come from the carnage of road accidents. There is now a huge mismatch between supply and demand. When a fresh corpse becomes available, medical researchers and practitioners gather like vultures squabbling over the tastier morsels.
Animal-to-human transplants, otherwise known as transgenic transplants or xenotransplants, are offered as the way forward. Xenotransplants may save a few lives (assuming the transplant is not rejected and no complications arise), but in doing so could put the whole human race at risk.
A number of new diseases have recently arisen, including Ebola and AIDS, against which the human population has no resistance. One possibility is that African tropical rainforest destruction (acute environmental stress) has caused diseases to jump species. When a disease jumps species, both disease and host are ill-adjusted to each other and the result is likely to be rapid deterioration and death of the host. This has been seen with both AIDS and Ebola. AIDS is thought to have jumped to humans from monkeys.
In Hong Kong a virus jumped from chickens to humans, resulting in the death of the human hosts. The entire Hong Kong population of chickens had to be destroyed.
Xenotransplants are likely to transfer unknown viruses against which we have no defences, no cure. The possibility of pig-to-human organ transplant may be a transplant surgeon's dream option, it is the virologist's worst nightmare.
Viruses are able to insert themselves into bacteria and with the help of genetic material from the virus turn the bacteria into a deadly killer. Unlike higher life forms bacteria lack a species barrier and possess the ability to transfer DNA laterally, that is between bacteria.
It is not only the crossing of disease from one species to another. Problems can arise between human populations if separated for long periods. When Western man first landed in the Americas, apart from the deliberate genocide caused by massacres, many native people were wiped out by common European diseases to which they had no natural immunity. Today, many Amazonian tribes are being wiped out through deliberate infection.
The risks to the human race are great, the patient may not fare too well either. In 1992, Thomas E Starzl (one of the pioneers in transgenic transplants) transferred a baboon liver into an HIV patient suffering from Hepatitis B. The patient survived for an agonising 70 days. His final death throws make gruesome reading:
By turns, he suffered from septic intoxication, oesophagitis, viraemia (the presence of viruses in the blood) haemorrhaging in the pleural (chest) cavity, and later from circulatory collapse, as well as an acute cough. In the end, kidneys and liver failed, and bile engorgement was produced. The patient finally died from internal bleeding.
Starzl considered the transplantation to have been a success.
Pigs are being genetically engineered to make them human-like. The effect of the insertion of alien genes is unknown. The effect of the transplant of alien organs is unknown. Genes can become unstable, mutate. Genes migrate. Environmental stress induces gene instability. Unknown viruses may be transferred across the species barrier. Viruses, previously benign, may interact to form new mutations that devastate both human and pig populations. The failures to date include baboons receiving pigs' hearts, pigs' kidneys transplanted into the necks of mongrel dogs, rabbits' hearts transplanted into the necks of pigs. The scientists who carry out these grotesque experiments want us to believe they are normal human beings.
The effect of the transfer of a single gene into pigs to promote growth hormones resulted in gastric ulcers, arthritis, cardiomegaly, dermatitis, renal disease, lameness, lethargy, severe joint disease, inflammation and pneumonia. To produce human-like pigs requires the transfer of several genes. It is then proposed to transplant this multiplicity of unknowns and potential problems into a living person.
Pigs are intelligent, gentle, friendly creatures. They like to root around. Genetically engineered pigs for human organ transplants will be kept in sterile environments (probably stainless steel cages devoid of any stimulation). Pregnant sows will have their uteruses slashed open to drop their little piglets straight into a sterile environment.
The first known pig-to-human transplant was carried out in India in December 1996 by Dhaniram Baruah who transplanted a pig's heart. The patient died. Dhaniram Baruah has been charged under India's 1994 Organ Transplant Act and faces a maximum fine of 10,000 rupees.
In a laboratory in Cambridge (England) herds of genetically engineered pigs are awaiting the go-ahead from the UK government.
We will soon be able to gorge ourselves on pig until our heart gives out. We will then be able to kill another pig, and gouge out its heart as a replacement for our own.
The transfer of pig organs into Man, raises philosophical questions with a physiological dimension. Who am I? If the organ takes, that is it is not rejected by the human recipient, more than an animal organ appended to a human body takes place. The organ becomes integrated into the whole being, the cells migrate, the human becomes a chimera, part human, part pig.
Although there is undoubtedly an organ shortage that is not the driving force. The push is coming from biotech companies who see huge profits to be made from a trade in organs for transplant. Very often the same companies who are engaged in genetic engineering.
A trade in organs already exists. In South and Central America there are human factory farms. Woman are used as incubators, often serving a dual function as prostitutes. Their children are taken away and fattened up. When a suitable size they are killed and their organs used for transplants. The poor and illiterate are often duped into unnecessary operations. Unbeknown to them their organs are stolen. The trade in children is a multi-million dollar industry in Guatemala. Babies are stolen from street children and put on the market. A similar trade in body parts exists in Albania, now opened up to the full advantages of unfettered capitalism. Pregnant women returning from a stint as prostitutes in Italy have their babies stolen. Large numbers of babies are kidnapped and disappear. They are either sold for adoption or killed and dissected for their body parts. Cats gorge themselves sick on discarded parts in maternity wards. It is not uncommon to find dissected bodies of babies discarded on rubbish dumps. The market for body parts in the US is an estimated $6 billion per year.
The possibility exists not only of genetically cloned pigs producing organs for transplants, but also cloned humans. The technology already exists. Severino Antinori, a leading Italian embryologist, has announced his intention to attempt human cloning if offered the facilities. The technology is now sufficiently advanced that regulations outlawing human cloning or international treaties banning not just human cloning but also xenotransplants will no longer suffice. It will require destruction of all the research facilities and an international ban on this area of research.
On 8 December 1998 the go-ahead was given in the UK for the cloning of human embryos for the production of human body parts. On the international scene at least 7 companies are believed to be in the race to be the first to clone a human.
Late 1998, two researchers at a fertility clinic in South Korea cloned a human embryo and took it as far as four cells before aborting the experiment. In Canada, a bizarre religious cult, Ryellianans, who believe man was cloned in the image of alien creatures believe it is their sacred duty to clone humans. They have established an offshore operation in the Bahamas called CloneAid, and are charging $100,000 for each successfully cloned human. They claim to have the help of many leading researchers in the field. Ian Wilmutt, the creator of Dolly, has claimed human cloning was not viable and that it is unethical. Following the inducement of a large amount of US dollars, he is now working on the creation of human clones for tissue generation. The creation of clones for tissue is the first step towards creating a fully functioning human clone.
There is an existing and unfulfilled demand for the cloning of pets. A Texan millionaire has offered $5 million to have his pet dog cloned. At least two companies have been established in the US to promote the cloning of pets. Wealthy Saudis are trying to get racehorses cloned to enable them to rig races. Money talks.
There exists a multimillion dollar world-wide trade in human sperm and eggs.
Human-to-animal transplants were described by Janet Daly on a political discussion programme (BBC Any Questions) as grotesque. When the (not scientifically selected) audience was asked did they agree an overwhelming majority agreed.
Xenotransplants are not just grotesque and scientifically flawed, they are morally and ethically wrong. Man is an omnivore and thus consumes animals but that does not give him the right to abuse and degrade his fellow species. Animals, sentient beings, have been degraded to a commodity. They are reared in inhumane conditions, brutally slaughtered. Live animals are shipped across Europe with little regard for their health and welfare.
Hunter-gatherers respect their environment and all that lives in it. When they kill an animal, they always respect its spirit.
Transplants are unnecessary and a medical dead-end. At the time the British National Health Service was established in 1958 it was expected that after the initial cost the costs would decrease, instead health care costs have soared. This has been because of the emphasis on high profile, high-tech medicine, with the additional drain of subsidising the drugs industry. Many diseases are preventable and due to environmental factors - stress, poor diet, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, pollution. Eliminate the causes and we would all but eliminate the demand for transplants leaving a residual demand that could be met by the existing supply.
Millions of people die each year. They do not die through lack of organ transplants, they die as a result of war, civil strife, man-made famine, lack of drinking water, urban poverty. The major advances that took place in health care did so in the Victorian era at the end of the 19th century. These advances were as a result of improvements in sanitation, clean drinking water, better housing, adequate diet, elimination of poverty.
Even were all the technical problems to be solved, there to be an unlimited supply of parts, it has been estimated by Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics, that life expectancy would be extended by 0.003% (less than a day in a lifetime), the use of xenotransplants would extend life expectancy by 0.02%.
Much medical research is worthless. It has little to do with advancement in health care and much to do with personal gain, kudos to researchers, research teams, institutions and corporate profits.
Closely linked to animal-to-human transplants and equally grotesque is genetic engineering and animal experimentation.
Genetic engineering poses one of the greatest threats to the planet. In complete ignorance of the outcome, alien genes are being inserted into organisms, then released into the wider environment.
Animal experimentation contributes little to either research or drugs safety. The diversion of resources slows down medical progress. If we treat animals as machines, to be tortured in the name of science, then the screams can be dismissed as no more than a creak from a door. A growing body of researchers consider animal experimentation to be worse than useless. By careful choice of the animal it is possible to prove almost anything. Feed lemons to cats and they die, feed botulin to cats and they thrive. Aspirin will kill a cat. High doses of Strychnine, a favourite in crime novels, will not kill a guinea-pig. Digitalis (derived from foxgloves) is used to lower blood pressure, but its use was delayed for many years because experiments on dogs showed that it raised blood pressure. Testing drugs on animals provides no evidence that it is safe for human use, but it does provide a useful legal defence for the drugs company as they can claim it tested as 'safe'. The list of drugs pronounced 'safe' is endless - Opren (anti-arthritic, 70 deaths in Britain, 3,500 serious side effects including damage to skin, eyes, kidneys, liver), Clioquinol (anti-diarrhoeal, 30,000 cases of paralysis and blindness in Japan, thousands of deaths worldwide), Thalidomide (sedative, 10,000 birth defects worldwide) etc. Dogs were mutilated to gain UK approval for the sex-drug Viagra.
An International Treaty is required not only to ban xenotransplants but to outlaw this whole area of research.
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