Liver in the Lamb

I am following up on our discussion that we had in class on Friday, as well as blogs by Marissa, Walter, and Lindsay. I read an article that discussed the ethics of producing chimeras, for medical or other purposes. The article started by discussing a medical discovery. If you need a new liver, Esmail Zanjani, a researcher at the University of Nevada can take some of your bone marrow stem cells and inject it into a fetal sheep and the right moment. The lamb will then be born with a liver made up with your cells-a perfect match with a low risk of infection. The sheep would be killed as your new liver is put in your body. Your human body would kill the lamb’s liver cells, leaving behind the perfect liver for you to survive with.

Ignoring any discussion about whether or not having an animal body part in a human body makes someone a chimera or not, how is this possibly ethical? While I think that it is great researchers are developing new ways to cure patients and creative ways to help people, we can’t do these at the expense of animals. This sheep never got a chance to live, because a researcher genetically implanted his liver with the stem cells of a human.

I think that learning about our bodies from studying animal’s is perfectly acceptable. We can learn a lot from animals, and this knowledge can help us advance our technology in order to save more human lives. However, we should not be doing this at the expense of another’s life. Like Lindsay said, we are simply asserting our dominance over these animals. We are proving that we are better than them and that we can kill them in order to save the lives of our species.

As I am writing this, I thought how is killing an animal to use its body parts different than killing an animal to eat it as food. To me, this is a huge difference. Killing for food is a natural thing all animals (humans included) do to survive. What these researchers are doing however, is genetically manipulating animals, and then killing them to serve human purposes. Every species wants to survive, and animals deserve the right to either survive or be killed for natural purposes, not for human science experiments.


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