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Cloned donor organs. - Dhamma Wheel

Cloned donor organs.

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
PeterB
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:10 am

There is a lot of research activity going to on to produce cloned organs.
A heart or a kidney for example which will be produced using cross- species cloned tissue which will result in an organ which is no more likely to be rejected by the body than would an organ from another human. In fact less so because it will incorporate tissue from the recipients body. The animal donor, most likely a pig, will then be killed to harvest the organ.


So you have a child or grandchild with congenital heart failure and a life expectancy of about year without a donated organ.

The consent form is front of you. The hearts are waiting for harvest.
Is signing that form kusala or akusala. ?


NB This is not an abstract debate. It is a moral/ethical decision which will have to be faced by Buddhists in the near future.

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Ben
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Location: kanamaluka

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby Ben » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:39 am

Hi Peter,
Yes, I heard an interesting piece on ye olde radio just the other day on advances in organ transplant technology. I also remember attending a party about seventeen years ago where I was talking to a medical scientist from Melbourne University who was involved in developing a population of pigs as organ donors. He asked the same question. My wife screwed up her face and said 'YUK...NO WAY!' For her its not an ethical issue. Its an issue of having the heart of a pig transplanted into you.
For me, I would bight the bullet and sign the consent forms. From time to time we have to make hard decisions and do things which on the face of it run counter to the precepts. Its unrealistic to think that one could actually go through life, as if in a bubble, and not be deeply challenged ethically by some dilemma.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

PeterB
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:02 am

True Ben...and as I said this particular one is likely to come to a Buddhist centre near any one of us in the near future.
I wonder of there is an extra dimension to the issue if the parent/grandparent is a vegan ?

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Ben
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Location: kanamaluka

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby Ben » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:28 am

No doubt, Peter. If one is vegan then it would be an interesting exercise to see just how far one is committed (or attached) to the position before a reassessment takes place. Which is fine if one is making decisions for oneself. When one holds a particularly staunch view and that person is a guardian or has the power of medical attorney over someone else (or a child), then I think its cause for concern.
I can imagine that a lot of the "issues" will most likely be attempts to camoflage one's aversion to the thought of a pig's organ being grafted into one's body.
I wonder how many people would willingly choose an organ harvested from a poor african who's life would be sacrificed for the recipient over a donor organ from a pig?
I think it would surprise some.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

chownah
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:26 pm

The issue has already arrived.....pig heart valves have been used as replacements for damaged human heart valves for a long time...many years...don't know how many...
chownah

PeterB
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:38 pm

The difference is that it will be standard procedure before long to clone a number of organs, which are currently donated by human beings post mortem.
As the cultivation of organs in animals which are genetically shaped to the intended donor becomes the norm, donated organs from human cadavers will overtime not be needed.
Eventually those organs will be grown in lab conditions, but there will be a long leading in period where it will be necessary to use animals.

Kusala or Akusala ?

chownah
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:38 pm

I think that just like the teaching that monks should not eat meat from an animal killed specifically to provide food for the monk the new rule for monks should be that they may not accept organs from animals that were killed specifically to provide the organ for them....so they need to be sure the animal is killed specifically for lay people to eat and thereby making the organ donation a by-product and not the specific intent of the killing the animal......this logic can be incrementally extended until the issue becomes exactly the same as accepting muscle mass as "donated" organ for consumption.
chownah

perkele
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby perkele » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:09 pm

Kusala or akusala?
People die of this or that. No way to solve that "problem".
My stance is that such medicinal advances create more suffering than they remedy.
A pig slaughtered to extend a life of a human being, who might have died now otherwise. Does that free this human being from suffering? No. In either way that being fares according to his/her kamma. If that human being consented to the killing of a pig, then he/she has done an unwholesome act, creating suffering for himself (which might manifest for example as remorse (if even only a very little bit)) and/or lowering the inhibition threshold of killing or consenting to kill (inferior life forms) for the sake of one's own well-being with all the consequences and repercussions that will have on him/herself and society on the long run (the lowering of moral thresholds being the most important imo).
It does not eradicate craving. It prolongs it.
So I say that this development is very unwholesome.

PeterB
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:17 pm

So Perkele if it is your child , do you sign or not ?

nameless
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby nameless » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:39 pm

Is it a moral/ethical decision, or is it a decision based in desire?

I would likely sign the form, out of selfish desire to see my loved ones live. It would be hypocritical, at least for me, to try and frame it as a moral/ethical decision.

I think several points can be considered
- the transplant occurs and both die
- the transplant doesn't occur but the pig dies for some reason (lots of ways to die)
- the transplant doesn't occur for you but the pig is used for someone else (knowing the ways of the world, it is unlikely that the people in charge will let it go to waste)
- the transplant occurs but the recipient dies for some other reason (well, the recipient will surely die, just a matter of how much the life is extended)

Of course its not an exhaustive list, as the world is unpredictable.

As an aside, it's not a problem that "will have to be faced by Buddhists in the near future", because no children, no problem. Life is inevitably followed by death; by choosing to give life, one is also choosing to expose said life to death.

PeterB
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:47 pm

It is likely to be faced by most Buddhist groups in time. Most Buddhist groups will at some time have a member who will have a relative whose heart or lungs or kidneys or liver will fail. Those members and their families will need support.
This is rapidly ceasing to be hypothetical.

santa100
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby santa100 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:21 pm

Since there'll always be pigs sent to butcher houses for meat, why not clone the hearts and lungs on those, use the organs to save the kids and then sending them to the butcher houses. We couldn't save these animals at first anyway. If there're concerns about human tissues on these pigs meat, mark the meat and only sell to the ones who signed the forms. There's a cost to everything. If you don't want any of those above, wait until scientists successfully clone organs in the lab, not on animals. They say it's not decades away, but only years away. Problem solved..

PeterB
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:25 pm

The science is more specific than that Santa100. A dna graft is made at cellular level between a specific pig and the intended recipient. As you say its years not decades.
Someone on Zen Forum international has just made the interesting point that such research will probably be outlawed in the US. But as with stem cell research it will continue in Europe.

santa100
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby santa100 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:48 pm

So? Are they still edible? Exchanging lives on a "one-to-one" ratio is not a good option even for a utilitarian's view point, let alone Buddhists. In the case of killing pigs for meat, at least one can feed 10-20, maybe 30 hungry mouths for every kill. Just like the over-spending problem in the US and Washington is working their behinds off to fix the balance sheet, same thing could happen to the over-kill of animals which will lead to unforseen consequences environmentally, economically, and morally. Gotta find a better way to fix the balance sheet before diving in...

perkele
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby perkele » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:29 pm


Mawkish1983
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Location: Essex, UK

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:47 pm

Human birth is rare and precious. I think this is a worthwhile development. I shan't try to guess the outcome of the Kamma - wholesome or unwholesome, I don't know - but I would use this technology without hesitation and accept the consequences.

chownah
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:58 am

Is there an extensive industry of animal organ donorship already in existence? Doesn't a butcher extract usable donor organs (muscles) which are then used to extend life by being eaten?
chownah

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Kim OHara
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:44 am


PeterB
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Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby PeterB » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:38 am


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Kim OHara
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Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Cloned donor organs.

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:43 am



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