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Ethics and Theoretical Issues in Kidney Xenotransplantation

  • Wayne John Hawthorne
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Wayne J. Hawthorne, MHSc, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Westmead Hospital, The University of Sydney, Westmead, New South Wales, 2145 Australia.
    Affiliations
    The Centre for Transplant and Renal Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia

    Department of Surgery, School of Medical Sciences, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Adwin Thomas
    Affiliations
    The Centre for Transplant and Renal Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Richard N. Pierson
    Affiliations
    Center for Transplantation Sciences, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
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      Summary

      Xenotransplantation has seen recent global interest peak as a result of several clinical xenotransplants being performed in decedents and a live cardiac recipient. However, underpinning these latest transplants have been decades of invested scientific research programs that have been developing the ideal donor source animals to avoid the overwhelming hyperacute xenograft rejection seen using nongenetically modified animal organs, tissues, and cells. However, this also needs to be undertaken along with the development of safe and efficacious xenotransplantation technologies, immunosuppression, monitoring, disease screening, patient selection, societal education, and acceptance. Paralleling the advent of such extraordinary transplants have been several decades of establishment of world xenotransplantation authorities such as the International Xenotransplantation Association, and the development of guidance documents and regulations for the assessment of these cutting-edge technologies. Similar to all new technologies there remain outdated concerns and fears of the theoretical potential for transmission of xenozoonosis, ethical concerns, and outdated or appropriately educated societal concerns and religious views of the benefits or risks and issues for xenotransplantation use of organs, tissues, or cells from animals to human beings. Here, we discuss the development of xenotransplantation and the intricate balance in managing the various challenges with which we are faced: in the absolute benefits of xenotransplantation and the dichotomy in balancing the pros and cons of xenotransplantation with social, religious, ethical, scientific, and medical opinions. Ultimately, the benefits are to those patients suffering from the many and various diseases that drive the need for xenotransplantation. The hope is that it will be implemented as soon as possible to help the many millions of patients who can truly benefit.

      Keywords

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