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Here’s to xenophobia

Are transplants with animal organs dangerous?

By Olivia Judson   December 1999

Disturbing questions arise with many new technologies. The benefits are often clear; the risks difficult to quantify. Yet when the risks cease to be the thin spectres conjured by scaremongers and are demonstrably real, how great must the benefits be for us to press ahead with implementing the technology anyway? Perhaps no technology today places these questions into sharper focus than xenotransplantation, the transplanting of animal organs into people.

Organ transplants are the fruits of a grisly harvest: thousands of people wait for the death of someone else so that they themselves may live. Yet healthy people do not die…

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