Throughout history, many attempts have been made to transplant kidneys, hearts, livers, and other animal tissues into humans, however, with very limited success. There has never been a successful whole organ animal to human transplant. Most human recipients die anywhere from hours to weeks after receiving the animal organ. Xenotransplantations are still experimental, and there are serious risks allocated with the procedures. According to the doctor's group, even genetically altered animals could harbour pathogens capable of causing catastrophic illness in humans. Why is this process being investigated at present? The development of xenotransplantation is, in part, driven by the fact that the demand for human organs for clinical transplantation far exceeds the supply. (Beauchamp par.2) Xenotransplants do not represent the best solution for the current organ shortage crisis, due to the fact that, there is risk of introducing new viruses into the human population, the animal organs are unable to sustain the human body and there are ethical concerns pertaining to animal rights. .
Firstly, primates harbour a range of micro organisms known to be pathogenic to humans. They may transmit viruses that could hurt not only the recipient but might spread to humans worldwide. Even if scientists can screen for some viruses in animals there is always the potential for unknown viruses to exist and, can be missed by the screening. Also, through mutations, viruses can change from benign to deadly. It is impossible to have completely pathogen-free animals. Viruses that have crossed-over from animals to humans have killed numerous amounts of people. For instance, in 1918 the Spanish flu that killed 20 million people was caused by a virus that was transmitted from animals to humans. Baboons and swine both carry numerous transmittable agents and perhaps more that we are unable to detect. (Downie 205) The procedure is one of high risk since the animal organ can transmit viruses, bacteria or fungi that the animal is immune to and can produce fatal outcomes in humans.