Xenotransplantation – in general terms, transplanting non-human organic tissue into human beings – looks likely to become more common in New Zealand in light of the decision to re-open the door to its use in potential diabetes treatment.
- Pig cell transplants bring new hope for sick Kiwis – 17 Apr 2007 – NZ Herald: New Zealand National news:
- Green light given for pig cell transplants to humans – New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz:
A couple of years back I did a few lectures about xenotransplantation and similar technologies that I argued would become more common in the near future, and that there were significant pastoral issues that would need to be faced in light of this. I still think this, and I worry that many people when faced with hard decisions about this type of procedure, and especially questions that it raises about human identity, will find little or no space in the faith communities to reflect upon and discuss it.
Even outside of the issues raised about its safety, the potential for a knee-jerk marginalization of individuals who do elect for these treatments (for whatever reasons) within the church and the wider community seems a very real possibility. Especially in communities that see the division between human and non-human in clear-cut, black and white, divinely-ordered categories.
For links to related articles and web sites see the category: Greenflame: Bioethics.