CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS
Online Debate, Discussion and Commentary
The Prospect of Xenotransplants:
Scientific Aspects and Ethical Considerations
Such transplants in fact reflect one of medicine's most promising discoveries, said the Pontifical Academy for Life, in a press report to explain the Church's view.
The academy's work was commissioned by the Vatican State Secretariat in response to a
request from the European Council on the ethical character of xenotransplants.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, explained that
xenotransplants be adopted ethically as final surgical therapy, only after
very strict conditions are guaranteed - one such condition being that experimentation
would have to be done on animals first, and only later applied to persons in desperate
need. Because of the poor response to appeals for human organ donors compared with
the numbers required by patients, the scientific community is highly committed to
the prospect of xenotransplants, that is, to the possibility of transplanting organs,
tissues and cells from animals to man, the bishop said at the Vatican Press Office.
The document had been prepared by an international working group, guided by the Pontifical Academy for Life. Professor Emmanuele Cozzi of the Department of Surgery of Cambridge University, and professor Marialuisa Lavitrano, coordinator of the Xenotransplant Project in Italy, highlighted the hope offered today by preclinical tests and the use of transgenic pigs.
A theological justification was put forward by Father Maurizio P. Faggioni, OFM, professor of bioethics at the Alfonsiana Academy of Rome, who concluded that the recourse to animals as sources of organs is no more than an instance of the use that man can make of animals. However, he added that the ethical character of these transplants will depend on the evaluation of the goods that can be obtained for man or woman and the respect for certain conditions, such as avoiding unnecessary suffering for animals, and the need to observe the greatest caution at the moment of introducing uncontrollable genetic modifications that can significantly alter the biodiversity and balance of the species in the animal world.
Deborah Jones, (General Secretary of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare) speaking for the organisation, deplores these conclusions by the Pontifical Academy for Life in their report and castigates the enquiry for not including due consideration for the God-given rights of animals not to be used as 'spare parts' for people. The biblical injunction to have dominion is to do with responsible stewardship for creation, not to endorse this blatant form of unnatural exploitation,' she said. Father Faggioni is right to draw the line at "unnecessary suffering for animals" and the dangers of "introducing uncontrollable genetic modifications that can significantly alter the biodiversity and balance of the species in the animal world" - but he does not go far enough. This news seems like blasphemy being committed by the very authorities mandated to uphold God's intentions
The pontifical academys document in Italian on xenotransplants may be consulted at http://www.vatican.va in the section of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
First , what is xenotransplantation?
It means inserting the organ of one species into the body of another, or specifically, using the organs of genetically altered and specially raised animals for transplanting into humans
What is wrong with xenotransplantation?
There are three general arguments against this practice:
Most of this information has come from the bulletin of the Animal Defence League of Canada. With thanks.
For questions, comments and submissions, please contact:
Deborah Jones at The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare firstname.lastname@example.org
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