Intended for healthcare professionals


Have a Heart

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:322
  1. Gavin Yamey
  1. BMJ

    The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Channel 4, Thursday 20 January

    Demand for heart and kidney transplants continues to outweigh supply. The pharmaceutical industry thinks it has the solution: it has seen the future, and the future is pigs.

    Xenotransplantation may have left the realms of science fiction, but there are still many obstacles to its use. The chief one is transplant rejection. We could in theory use monkey organs in the hope of reducing the rejection response, except that monkeys are endangered and the risk of transmitting diseases from primates to man is unacceptably high. And this is where the pig comes in. The animal is in plentiful supply, and its organs are just the right size.

    But why should the human body accept a pig's parts? It won't of course, unless it's a very special kind of swine. Pharmaceutical companies are competing to produce a genetically engineered …

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