Xenotransplantation, consent and international justice

Developing World Bioethics 9 (3):119-127 (2009)
The risk posed to the community by possible xenozoonosis after xenotransplantation suggests that some form of 'community consent' is required before whole organ animal-to-human xenotransplantation should take place. I argue that this requirement places greater obstacles in the path of ethical xenotransplantation than has previously been recognised. The relevant community is global and there are no existing institutions with democratic credentials sufficient to establish this consent. The distribution of the risks and benefits from xenotransplantation also means that consent is unlikely to be forthcoming. Proceeding on the basis of hypothetical consent to a package of global health measures that includes xenotransplantation, as Rothblatt has recently advocated, is more problematic than she acknowledges. Given that it may place the lives of citizens of poor nations at risk to benefit the citizens of wealthy nations, xenotransplantation raises significant questions of international justice.
Keywords Xenozoonosis  Xenotransplatation  ethics  justice  risk  consent
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DOI 10.1111/j.1471-8847.2009.00251.x
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