Smithfield makes move on market for pig-human transplants

Reuters, 12 April 2017
Authors: Julie Steenhuysen, Michael Hirtzer
“Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has established a separate bioscience unit to expand its role in supplying pig parts for medical uses, with the ultimate goal of selling pig organs for transplantation into humans. Recent scientific advances for using pigs as a supply of replacement parts for sick or injured people, makes it an attractive new market. Transplants from animals could help close a critical gap to help those in need.”
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In a world first, Singapore’s highest court rules that parents deserve kids with their genes

The Conversation, 3 April 2017
Author: G. Owen Schaefer
“Blood is thicker than water, or so the saying goes, reflecting the value we put on biological relationships. But is it something the law should recognise? Singapore’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that asks this very question, and it gave a fascinating answer: parents have a strong interest in “genetic affinity” with their children, one that can merit compensation if subverted.”
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The Deadly Business of an Unregulated Global Stem Cell Market

BMJ Blog, 30 March 2017
Authors: Tereza Hendl, Tamra Lysaght
“In our paper, we report on the case of a 75-year old Australian woman who died in December 2013 from complications of an autologous stem cell procedure. This case was tragic and worth reporting to the medical ethics community because her death was entirely avoidable and the result of a pernicious global problem – doctors exploiting regulatory systems in order to sell unproven and unjustified stem cell interventions.”
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Donation after brain circulation determination of death

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:15
Authors: Anne L. Dalle Ave, James L. Bernat
“In DBCDD, death is determined when the cessation of circulatory function is permanent but before it is irreversible, consistent with medical standards of death determination outside the context of organ donation. Safeguards to prevent error include that: 1] the possibility of auto-resuscitation has elapsed; 2] no brain circulation may resume after the determination of death; 3] complete circulatory cessation is verified; and 4] the cessation of brain function is permanent and complete. Death should be determined by the confirmation of the cessation of systemic circulation; the use of brain death tests is invalid and unnecessary. Because this concept differs from current standards, consensus should be sought among stakeholders. The patient or surrogate should provide informed consent for organ donation by understanding the basis of the declaration of death.”
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When organ donation isn’t a donation

BMJ 2017;356: j1028
Author: Margaret McCartney
“The rest of the UK requires consent for organ donation, either by the dead person having pre-empted the decision by joining the donor register or by family consent. Wales uses a “soft” opt-out, meaning that it’s not intended to be legally enforced and that potential situations where doctors remove organs for transplant directly against the surviving family’s wishes will not occur.”
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Human rights violations in organ procurement practice in China

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:11
Authors: Norbert W. Paul, Arthur Caplan, Michael E. Shapiro, Charl Els, Kirk C. Allison, Huige Li
“Over 90% of the organs transplanted in China before 2010 were procured from prisoners. Although Chinese officials announced in December 2014 that the country would completely cease using organs harvested from prisoners, no regulatory adjustments or changes in China’s organ donation laws followed. As a result, the use of prisoner organs remains legal in China if consent is obtained.”
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Uneasy About the Ethics of Egg Donation

The Atlantic, 17 January 2017
Author: Chris Bodenner
“The following reader tells the story of her long battle with infertility that culminated with the successful use of donated eggs. But despite the happy ending, she struggles with uneasy questions about the ethics of the donor industry and the “massive resentment” she harbors toward her husband.”
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Navigating social and ethical challenges of biobanking for human microbiome research

BMC Medical Ethics, 11 January 2017
Authors: Kim H. Chuong, David M. Hwang, D. Elizabeth Tullis, Valerie J. Waters, Yvonne C. W. Yau, David S. Guttman, Kieran C. O’Doherty
“Biobanks are considered to be key infrastructures for research development and have generated a lot of debate about their ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI). While the focus has been on human genomic research, rapid advances in human microbiome research further complicate the debate.”
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