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PLAYING GOD: Scientists Bring Pig Organs Back from the Dead

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As the human race continues to hurtle through this explosive period of exponential technological growth, we are certain to find ourselves cozying up to some rather fraught ethical lines.

We’ve already watched in horror as the digital dimension invents fake money, and as sentient chatbots begin to hire their own lawyers, the latter of which heralds a rather remarkable turn toward the dystopian dream that Hollywood’s been fantasizing about for decades.

Now, over in the terrifying field of bioethics, science has taken a Frankenstein-like step toward reanimation, and it has some wondering where the moral-medical line should be drawn.

Researchers at Yale University used a new technology to restore cells in some organs of pigs that had just died, bringing the animals’ cells back to function. The findings, which were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, raise profound ethical questions about how medicine defines death but also teases new possibilities for the collection of human organs for transplant.

“My eyes went wide,” Brendan Parent, an assistant professor of bioethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said about the moment he first read the new findings. “My brain went to all the crazy places we could go in 20 or 30 years.” Parent was not involved in the study, but was asked by Nature to write a commentary discussing the implications of the new technology.

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Just how crazy is this?

The research is still in an early, experimental phase and many years from potential use in humans. It could ultimately help to extend the lives of people whose hearts have stopped beating or who have suffered a stroke. The technology also shows potential to dramatically shift how organs are collected for transplant and increase their availability to patients in need.

When the heart stops beating, blood flow is cut off from the body in a process called ischemia and a cascade of biochemical effects begins. Oxygen and nutrients are cut off from tissues. Cells begin to die. It’s a path toward death that causes damage that scientists have considered irreversible.

The new research challenges that idea.

“The demise of cells can be halted,” Dr. Nenad Sestan, a professor of neuroscience at the  Yale School of Medicine and an author of the new research, said during a news conference. “We restored some functions of cells across multiple organs that should have been dead.”

The possibility of bringing organs back from the dead poses not only an ethical question, but one of fate and faith as well, as we must now ponder which time is our time to go?

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About the Author:
As a lifelong advocate for the dream promised us in the Constitution, Andrew West has spent his years authoring lush prose editorial dirges regarding America's fall from grace and her path back to prosperity. When West isn't railing against the offensive whims of the mainstream media or the ideological cruelty that is so rampant in the US, he spends his time seeking adventurous new food and fermented beverages, with the occasional round of golf peppered in.




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