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While people in the US still bicker over stem cells, abortion, and human cloning, researchers at the University of Nevada have bred sheep that are made up of 15% human cells.
By injecting human cells into a growing fetus, the animal’s body can be used to grow specific organs and tissues on demand. The hope is that animals could be bred with organs genetically identical to a human patient awaiting a transplant, reducing the risk of rejection.
At present, two-thirds of organ transplant patients will die before a compatible organ is donated by the traditional means, motorcycle accidents. Doctors on the front line agree that some alternative is urgently needed, and few see anything unethical in growing tissue in a laboratory. Some scientists point out the danger of animal viruses adapting to human tissue and spreading invisibly to the new human host, but such fears will not be realized until organ farming begins to occur on a much larger scale.
I will not debate the ethics of farming animal organs for human patients, because the inevitability of it is of greater concern. Whether it’s here in North America or overseas, the need to clone human tissue will overcome any moral criticism. It is the enormous profit that will eventually be generated from organ farming that will ultimately undermine the ethical practices of the well-meaning scientists in the field today. The cute and cuddly sheep nobly donating their organs to dying human patients will give way to massive farms of blind, caged chimeras more nightmarish than the beakless genetically modified monstrosities raised for KFC.
When your time comes, when you learn you have cancer, you won’t care anymore about the ethics or the risks. You won’t ask where the organ came from. You’ll thank God for your new lease on life, and never think twice about that sheep that was 15% you.