Xenotransplantation

An aid to ethical discernment

prepared by a working group on behalf of the Church Office of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the Secretariat of the German Bishops' Conference

Joint Texts No.13, 1998

Xenotransplantation

An aid to ethical discernment

7. Future prospects

This overview on the various aspects of xenotransplantation illustrates that the topic is made up of many different facets. According to current estimates, the clinical application of xenotransplantation will not become possible before 2010; the risks and problems attached to it are not yet completely understood. That is why this paper does not claim to contain a conclusive evaluation of xenotransplantation. These aids are oriented along the lines of current developments and findings in research and are intended to enable people to take up an independent, ethically founded position. Concurrent with the future developments, an unbiased process of gaining clarity on the various arguments and facts should set in now, and not after the clinical application of xenotransplantation has started.

It is important to note here that different positions can be defended on well-founded ethical grounds. In each case the ethical problems assume a particular dimension for the patients concerned and their families as well as for doctors, medical staff, researchers and society and, not least, for all of us regarding the treatment of animals.

As always when reflecting on a singular phenomenon, one must not loose out of sight what was the original issue at stake: to save terminally ill people by implanting donor organs. That means that research in xenotransplantation is merely one possibility to overcome the shortage in human donor organs. In a responsible approach of dealing with such an issue it is always necessary to search for and to include alternatives. At any rate, any form of research in the field of xenotransplantation and appropriate alternatives always has to be guided by the concept of maintaining human life and human dignity while maintaining respect for animals.
 




 


 

extended search