An expedient and ethical alternative to xenotransplantation

The current voluntary posthumous organ donation policy fails to provide sufficient organs to meet the demand. In these circumstances xenografts have been regarded as an expedient solution. The public perception seems to be that the only impediments to this technology are technical and biological. There are, however, important ethical issues raised by xenotransplantation that need to be considered as a matter of urgency. When the ethical issues raised by using non-human animals to provide replacement organs for human beings are considered in a wider context and the possible alternatives to xenotransplantation are taken into account, a new dimension is added to the debate. In this broader context it is argued that a less ethically problematic solution is to adopt a presumed consent or opt-out organ procurement policy to regulate posthumous organ harvesting from humans. If there are still too few organs available, then the whole question of transplantation must be reassessed
Keywords ethics  organ donation  organ harvesting  organ transplantation  xenograft  xenotransplantation
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009980400230
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