Interspecies Organ Transplant Research

John Ryu, Staff Writer

Interspecies organ transplant, known as Xenotransplantation, officially started in 1905. Slices of rabbit kidneys were transplanted into a child with chronic kidney disease. Today, we have gotten to the point where scientists can do organ transplants surgery and make test subjects live for a few weeks. The purpose of this research is to save patients who need replacement organs from dying on the waiting list. A high rate of success of Xenotransplantation and interspecies organ transplant would provide humanity a lot of benefits, such as more options to choose from, not having to worry about lack of donors, and possibly lower crime rate. However, some criticize animals being sacrificed in the lab even more for humanity, and question the ethics of xenotransplantation. Religions like Buddhism and Jainism tell you not to cause any harm to animals. Also, it is harder to transplant organs that are from other species because your body causes a lot of rejections like chronic rejection, and vascular rejection which makes organ transplant harder to find the one that fits you.

People tend to think that an organ is just a thing that you can replace like a machine part and your body causing a rejection is just a side effect. According to researchers, they do not have deep knowledge of how the organs work. They just know what the organ does in general. They are also unsure how to avoid rejections and how the test subject will turn out in the long term. Xenotransplantation has improved a lot compared to when it started, but successfully transplanting organs into humans will not be in the near future. Junior Arnav Singh, says, “It should keep going on as long as they can come up with promising results.”  However, currently, they do not have progress on xenotransplantation, and it has not had any progress for years. 

According to the article, If xenotransplantation becomes a thing, it could create a serious virus that could impact the whole world like coronavirus is doing. In this case, the virus could be very deadly or it will spread faster, and the virus could transform into something that we haven’t seen before. This would make it harder to make a vaccine for an unfamiliar virus. 

Seventy-five percent of people disagree on xenotransplantation. Senior Nikkie Guan said that “if I was in a life or death situation I would choose to get the surgery” saying she would only get it if organ transplantation is the last option. One third of human organ transplants are lost to transplant rejection. The success rate is a little low for just human organ transplantation. Having that success rate the success rate for xenotransplantation will be way lower. People do not want to get organs transplanted from other breeds because they are disgusted by it, and worried about side effects. With including many risk factors people wanting to get organs transplanted would be very low which would be not worth spending time and effort on organ transplantation research. 

Xenotransplantation can be very beneficial to humans if it works well. However, it presents the dilemma of one person having multiple organs from multiple animals. Should they be identified as humans? What if they have kids, do we call them 100 percent human? If the DNA between multiple species keeps getting mixed up we might even get to the point where a chimera, single organism composed of cells with more than one distinct genotype, exists just like in fiction. Freshman Stanley Chen says, “If this really happens I think there’s gonna be a specific name for them.”

Every living thing that exists on earth has evolved. So we should carefully choose whether we are going to keep the rules that are created over millions of years or not. Chen also states, “People should not try to do interspecies organ transplantation. All species on Earth have followed natural evolution for billions of years and we should not break this.” Humans have their bodies optimized for them over millions of years. Every species has adapted for itself. Therefore, some question the ethics of replacing any of them from other breeds just to live a little longer. 

Interspecies organ transplantation could either be helpful towards humanity or not helpful towards humanity depends on how you look at it. If people are willing to get interspecies organs transplanted to their bodies and its success rate is good or improves it will be a revolution. However, if people don’t want organs from other species due to religion, ethics, or disgust, then it could be not worth studying using a lot of money and effort.