When the idea that human organs could possibly be grown in pig bodies for medical purposes, my immediate reaction was sympathy for the pigs! However, I soon began to think of the many possible benefits of having organs genetically grown in pigs.
According to U. S Department of Health and Human Services, over 119,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list, another person is added to the waiting list every ten minutes, and 22 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant; the waiting list for an organ donation continues to grow. These statistics brought an issue to light: many lives had the potential to be saved, but lack of an available organ donor has put the number to a small minimum. Thus, KQED presented a possibility: live pigs could be used as the incubator for human organs.
Scientists have studied that it is possible to grow human organs inside a sow by using CRISPR gene editing (a gene that removes the gene specific to growing a pig embryo) and injecting human stem cells into a pig embryo. If successful, organs could be used for harvest and the wait list numbers would greatly decrease.
Although this study could potentially save many lives, growing organs raises many ethical issues. Some that concern me are: How accessible would the organs be and to who? (expense wise) Could pig’s possible develop human traits and intelligence? How could this potentially affect those who live a vegan lifestyle or avoid pigs for religious reasons?
Overall, I think this is a very interesting study that could possibly change the lives the population in need of an organ transplant! However, more studies need to be conducted before these methods are used.