Genetic modification of pigs, making their heart or kidneys suitable for transplantation into humans, is one of the techniques to solve the shortage of human donated organs in the future. Another way is that it might become possible for a human organ to grow into an animal.
This is not possible yet. But due to developments abroad, it is time for us to engage in a social dialogue about its limits. So the Rathenau Institute and NEMO Kennislink took the lead in order to Donor animal dialogue. The central question is here It was, “What do participants think of using animals to grow human organs?”† They engaged in dialogue with more than 400 people, including patients, researchers, ranchers, students and interested citizens. They wrote down the results in the report animal as donor which was submitted on Monday to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, which funded the dialogue.
The report shows that people in the Netherlands are generally open to researching the use of animals as organ donors, if it significantly improves the lives of critically ill patients. However, they put strict conditions on it. For example, much attention should be paid to animal care and research into treatments that do not require animals. These animal-free alternatives to resolving organ deficiency are, in fact, preferred by the vast majority of participants. Paying attention to safety is also important to prevent the transmission of diseases from animals to humans.
These findings could give direction to the debate on medical ethics and organ donation in the House of Representatives on June 2.
Amitu Harhuis, Director of the Rijksmuseum Borhav Leiden
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