Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Heart of the Matter

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Heart of the Matter

Article excerpt

The Heart of the Matter

A heart transplantation team at a major urban teaching hospital invariably has more candidates than hearts available to transplant. The program is known to benefit both low risk and high risk patients. Nevertheless, 30 percent of the candidates die before a heart becomes available. Members of the transplant team, who are both medical practitioners and scientific researchers, consider alternative sources of organs and decide upon the heart of chimpanzees.

The researchers realize that they are entering upon relatively uncharted waters, despite the close evolutionary link between human beings and chimpanzees. However, they have previously performed a series of preparatory experiments transplanting hearts between cynomologous monkeys and baboons. Though all the hearts were ultimately rejected due to the incompatibility of the two species' tissue types, there was temporary survival--an average of eleven weeks--sufficient to "buy time" for potential transplant recipients.

If the analogy between monkey/baboon and chimpanzee/human being holds, the chimpanzee heart could serve as a temporary "bridge" to a human heart, if and when it becomes available. For various reasons, medical and otherwise, the transplant team considers the chimpanzee heart preferable, as a bridge, to an artificial, mechanical heart. Moreover, it is possible that the chimpanzee heart could become a permanent replacement, if problems of immunological rejection could be overcome. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.