The Real Problem With Human Head Transplantation

JME Blog, 4 December 2017
Author: Michael S. Dauber
“The medical community has resoundingly asserted that the procedure is extraordinarily unethical, given the current state of our medical technology and the unforeseen effects such a procedure might have on the patient, assuming the patient survived at all. While these are certainly serious issues, the real problem with this picture is with international regulations: none of the laws and policies designed to protect patients and human research subjects have been able to stop them Canavero and Ren, nor are they likely to do so.”
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A quiet revolution in organ transplant ethics

Journal of Medical Ethics 2017;43:797-800.
Authors: Caplan A, Purves D
“A quiet revolution is occurring in the field of transplantation. Traditionally, transplants have involved solid organs such as the kidney, heart and liver which are transplanted to prevent recipients from dying. Now transplants are being done of the face, hand, uterus, penis and larynx that aim at improving a recipient’s quality of life. The shift away from saving lives to seeking to make them better requires a shift in the ethical thinking that has long formed the foundation of organ transplantation. The addition of new forms of transplants requires doctors, patients, regulators and the public to rethink the risk and benefit ratio represented by trade-offs between saving life, extending life and risking the loss of life to achieve improvements in the quality of life.”
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No Pain, All Gain: The Case for Farming Organs in Brainless Humans

JME Blog, 10 June 2017
Authors: Ruth Stirton, David Lawrence
“It is widely acknowledged that there is a nationwide shortage of organs for transplantation purposes. In 2016, 400 people died whilst on the organ waiting list. Asking for donors is not working fast enough. We should explore all avenues to alleviate this problem, which must include considering options that appear distasteful. As the world gets safer, and fewer young people die in circumstances conducive to the donation of their organs, there is only so much that increased efficiency in collection (through improved procedures and storage) can do to increase the number of human organs available for transplantation. Xenotransplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans – gives us the possibility of saving lives that we would certainly lose otherwise.”
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‘I went to the web to find a new kidney’

BBC, 1 May 2017
Author: Lesley Curwen
“A growing number of UK patients have bypassed the traditional NHS system of organ allocation, instead harnessing the power of the internet to find their own. Transplant doctors fear this development could result in an unsavoury competition to attract donors online, in what some have called an “organ beauty pageant”. And they worry that it rips up the traditional health service ethos of equal access to treatment for all.”
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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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France introduces opt-out policy on organ donation

The Guardian, 3 January 2017
Author: Kim Willsher
“France has reversed its policy on organ donations so that all people could become donors on their death unless they join an official register to opt out. The new law presumes consent for organs to be removed, even if it goes against the wishes of the family. Until 1 January, when the legislation took effect, unless the person who had died had previously expressed a clear wish for or against donation, doctors were required to consult relatives who, in almost a third of cases, refused.”
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US transplant study may have violated federal rules

BMJ 2016; 355: i5956
Author: Michael McCarthy
“A large study assessing whether inducing hypothermia in brain dead organ donors would affect graft function in recipients of kidney transplants may have violated federal regulations by not considering the organ recipients as human participants, an investigation has found. The investigation was conducted by the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Research Oversight.”
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China touts reforms, vows to battle corruption in organ donation system

Reuters, 17 October 2016
Author: Michael Martina
“China has zero tolerance for non-voluntary organ transplants and is fighting corruption in its fledgling donor system, an official who has led reform said on Monday, as Beijing seeks to leave behind an era of controversial organ harvesting.”
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Ethico-legal issues related to ovarian tissue transplantation

Med Sci Law October 2016 vol. 56 no. 4 293-304
Authors: P Voultsos, N Raikos, N Vasileiadis, Ch Spiliopoulou, B Tarlatzis
“Ovarian tissue transplantation (OTT) is a promising experimental method which may soon become well-established. In cases of minor oncology, where patients’ fertility is seriously threatened by treatment, it may be applied as a unique fertility preservation option. OTT has a dual nature (‘organ’ and ‘gamete’). Many stakeholders are involved, including donor, recipient, child, health-care providers and society at large. There is considerable uncertainty about the long-term consequences of the application of OTT and OT cryopreservation (OTC). Thus, application of OTT gives rise to a number of very different ethico-legal issues and dilemmas which are hard to solve coherently through a principlism-based bioethical approach.”
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