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Ethics of Xenotransplantation

            Each year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people need organ transplants. In 1998 alone, 14,240 people underwent transplants for kidneys or hearts(the 2 most commonly needed transplants). Despite this, 46,549 people were still in need of a new kidney/heart. This incredible shortage costs many people their lives, and these are only the numbers for two organs! Because of this shortage, many experts are considering xenotransplantation as a potential alternate for human organs. Xenotransplantation is the process of transplanting cells, tissue, or whole organs from an organism of one species to an organism of a different species. While previous attempts have been quite dismal, there have been many new scientific breakthroughs, which are re-opening the debate over the viability of this procedure.
             This argument has been hotly disputed for many years, and both sides have good reasoning for their beliefs. Those who say xenotransplantation should be used obviously start with the obvious: it could save many lives. According to many, this alone could justify any risk involved. However, there is another key argument supporting xenotransplantation as well. This is concerning the potential economic effects of xenotransplantation. The use of xenotransplantation would create many job opportunities, as specialists would need to be trained and put to work, and there would also be a need for more people to study the process and ways to improve its success. Xenotransplantation would also provide some biotechnology companies with an opportunity to achieve huge profits, if they could develop needed technology. .
             While these key arguments of xenotransplantation’s supporters are very logical, the opposition has good points as well. One such example is the possibility of new diseases being introduced to the patient. Baboons and pigs, the two leading “candidates” for donor, are both known to contain illnesses that could be potentially damaging to humans.

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