Science has come so far. One might even say it’s come too far. A British surgeon has revealed that he’s found a way to Macgyver a solution to heart and kidney disease using pig organs, and he’s about three years from making it happen.
Apparently, pig hearts and kidneys are similar enough to those of humans for scientists to not only use them to guinea pig (pun intended) possible treatments, but to just straight up chuck them inside us. In fact, the first ever pig-to-human kidney transplant is due to happen later this year – fitting that 2019 is the Year of the Pig.
I can’t really say I’m too comfy with the idea of having a pig organ inside me, even if it would save my life. It just reminds me way too much of the whole pig slave thing from Doctor Who. The ethics of these sorts of chimera-like experiments are a little murky, but at least this one doesn’t involve gene-editing embryos.
There are some pretty solid arguments for making porcine xenotransplantation happen, once you get over the yuck factor. For a start, it would definitely help resolve the organ donation shortage crisis. Sorry vegans, but if it makes you feel any better, at least we’d be using up parts that are usually wasted to save people’s lives. I’d say that’s a win-win.
Current experimental treatment involves a genetic material called microRNA-199 being delivered into a pig heart to help the cells regenerate, and if it proves effective, it’ll have a direct application in humans. Heart disease is the single biggest killer in Australia, so any solution is a good solution, and there’s definitely some bonus points for creativity to be awarded with this one.
Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? I read enough Animorphs books as a kid to be totally unafraid of hybrid freaks. I, for one, welcome our new Pigperson overlords.