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To Give or Not to Give: New Alternatives to Organ Donation

Essay by   •  October 29, 2017  •  Research Paper  •  1,597 Words (7 Pages)  •  998 Views

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To Give or Not To Give: New Alternatives to Organ Donation

For mankind, medicine is one of the most important and revolutionary fields of science. Much of it has to do with keeping everyone and everything healthy, so that they can continue making the world a better place. One of the fields that is sparking some controversy is that of organ donation, and how humans can get the organs they need more efficiently. As the population increases, however, so does the number of waiting recipients on a transplant list. This calls for easy and quick ways for people to get what they need to survive. To understand this complex and interesting field of medicine, it is without a doubt a good idea to look back on the past to see where organ donation first began and how it has advanced over the years.

Contrary to what many people believe, scientists and historians estimate the history of donation to go back as far as 8th century BC. Many of these early transplants deal with skin transplantation to treat various wounds, such as burns. However, tools were extremely limited and not sanitized properly, so many of these surgeries ended up causing other illnesses and injuries. This all changed in around 200 BC, when the Indian surgeon Sushruta began his work. Sushruta was able to complete a transplantation which involved using a person’s skin to perform a rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction). Although not a life-saving procedure by any means, this was one of the first transplants that was successful and not harmful in any way, and it inspired many other early surgeons to follow his work.

There are many accounts of transplants that existed well before the proper scientific advancements had been discovered for these procedures to have actually occurred. One of the more interesting cases of this started with Bian Que, who was the earliest known Chinese physician. Many legends were written about Bian Que, and there was one in particular that revolved around a certain transplant. Bian Que had two patients: one with strong spirit but weak will, and another with strong will but weak spirit. In an attempt to achieve balance in each man, Bian Que swapped their hearts to perform a double heart transplant. This legend was never found to be true, but it must have inspired surgeons to look for a way to make this possible.

Another case of this early transplant came when Roman Catholic accounts reported the two saints Damian and Cosmas as replacing the Roman deacon Justinian’s cancerous leg with one from a recently deceased Ethiopian citizen.They were able to perform many limb transplants like this, and it made them the patron saints of surgeons and physicians. These cases were the first successful non-skin transplants that anyone had ever seen, and they definitely paved the way for different kinds of transplantation to begin.

More modern transplantation began in 1883, when Swiss surgeon Theodor Kocher was able to use organ tissue to replace an organ function in a complete thyroid transplant. He was able to remove a person’s whole thyroid without the person dying from the operation, and although it had some side effects, this procedure was still the first “modern” transplant ever done. Thyroid transplantation became the model for what we now call “organ transplantation”. In 1909, Kocher was awarded a Nobel Prize for his advancements, which ended up being a significant building block for this field.

By 1900, the idea that a person could successfully treat internal diseases by replacing an organ had become widely accepted. This led to the “Golden Age” of modern organ transplantation, when many doctors were finding new ways to safely transplant other organs from one body to another. The thyroid became the model for organs such as the kidney, testicles, and adrenal glands. The first attempted deceased-donor transplant was done by Ukranian surgeon Yuri Voronoy in the 1930s; however, this failed due to Ischemia, a disease that causes a restriction in blood supply to body tissue. Joseph Murray performed the first ever successful transplant (a kidney transplant between identical twins) in 1954. In June 1963, James Hardy completed a successful deceased-donor lung transplant into a lung cancer sufferer. This patient was able to live for 18 more years before dying of kidney failure. In the same year, Thomas Starzl attempted a liver transplant, but was not successful until 1967.

The heart was the biggest prize for transplant surgeons at the time. There were many problems with this procedure, the greatest being that it had to be done extremely quickly. This was because after death, the heart deteriorates within several minutes, and there was no way to preserve it for any longer. Many had tried and failed, and James Hardy even tried using a chimpanzee heart instead of a human heart in 1964; however, the first successful heart transplant would not come until 1967, when Christiaan Barnard’s patient survived for 18 extra days. Although this was a huge step in the field, not many were extremely successful at the time. That was until Barnard’s second patient, Philip Blaiberg, lived for 19 more months because of his operation.

Today, there are many more people waiting on the transplant list than ever before, and this is leading to many problems. There just simply are not enough donors to compensate for everyone waiting for their lives to be changed. That crisis called for something to be done, and that was when new methods of giving people organs started being created and shared with the world. Today there are many alternatives, such as stem cell transplants and creating artificial organs. Some organs can even be 3D printed and still work properly in the human body. These are still very new concepts, and many surgeons and doctors are trying to figure out which alternative form would do the best job at filling this shortage of donors. There are many to choose from, but there are several obvious procedures that stand out among the rest and are the best fit for the job.

One of these methods involves growing “stem cell organs”, which are simply lab-grown organs that originate as stem cells (Defined by MedicalNewsToday as “a class of cells that is able to differentiate into different cell types [skin, bone, muscle, etc.]” ). Although this is seen as immoral to many people because it is generally associated with killing human

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