Heart is the most
important organ of the body and the key of blood circulation. It is located
beneath the sternum (breastbone) and is about the size of our fist. The heart
beats average seventy beats per minute and pumps about 5 liters of blood per
minute, in another term total volume of blood in the human body each minute.
Humans are not
able to survive without hearts and many scientists have been focusing on technologies
to mend a broken, damaged, heart.
There are four
heart replacement technologies that are most well-known to modern scientists: ‘Human
Heart Donation’, ‘Xenotransplantation’, ‘Tissue Engineering’, and ‘Artificial
Heart’. Each method has rescued many lives who suffered or could die from the
To begin with, I
would like to discuss about ‘Human Heart Donation’. This method, as the name
suggests, is replacing the malfunction heart with healthy donor’s heart which
is donated from charity or possibly individual volunteers. “Donation is key to
saving the life of a patient who is waiting for a heart transplant as the
severity of the weakened heart is critical.” (Donors1.org, 2018)
As such, the situations applying this method, can
be when other treatments for heart damage have not worked, which can lead to
heart failure in the future. When the operation of heart transportation is
done, people will be able to recover in just a few weeks although they will be
weak at the beginning. It is also very crucial to have simple activities to
strengthen their body and health; “pushing, pulling or heavy lifting until your
breastbone is fully healed.” (Bhf.org.uk, 2018)
replacement technology is ‘Xenotransplantation’. As the prefix, ‘Xeno-‘ means
alien, strange and guest, this technology, unlike from ‘Human Heart Donation’, is
“any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into
a human recipient of either live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman
animal source.” (Fda.gov, 2018) This technology was developed by the fact that
the need for the human organs far exceeds the current low supply. To
elaboration on, there are advantages of ‘Xenotransplantation’, not only
increasing the supply of source but also the therapeutic use. The technology
can play a huge role in certain diseases such as diabetes and neurodegenerative
disorders, in situation where human materials are not usually available.
Third of all,
there is a technology called, ‘Tissue Engineering’. The heart muscle disease
has been recognized a tipping point for progression to heart failure. National
statics from United States indicates that there are over five million people
damaged by heart failure each year and about three hundred thousand deaths. Furthermore,
the fully-grown heart muscle cells cannot divide into injured cells. The scar
tissues result into area of damaged myocardium. Thus, the best approach to
solve this issue is to avoid such scar formation or simply replace the formed
scar tissue with functioning cardiac muscle tissue. On the contrary, there are
limitations due to short length of cell life and poor cellular integration with
receiving the heart tissue.
technology is replacing the useless heart with ‘Artificial Heart’. An
artificial heart is a “prosthetic device that is implanted into the body to
replace the original biological heart.” (ScienceDaily, 2018) As I have
mentioned above regarding ‘Xenotransplantation’, there is a short supply of
human organs, thus there is an obvious credit which would lower the demand for heart
transplants when using the artificial heart. Moreover, due to components of
artificial heart are metals and plastics, the components are not rejected by our
body’s immune system. On the contrary, patients have to take special drugs to
thin the blood cell in order to prevent from strokes. The situations can be
serious when they are hurt in some accidents where they bleed a lot.
In this regard, I
would like to explain about ‘Xenoplantation’ in detail. To briefly summarize
and make emphasis of the previous points, I would like to discuss about its
pros and cons and, later on, its ethical issues.
To begin with, heart
transplants can save thousands or more lives every year, however there is
insufficient number of human organs donated.
The shortage has
led to attempts to develop animal organs that can be transplanted into humans. Such
developments had resulted recuing more than expectations.
decreased the opportunities of organ trading on the black market. The sale of
human organs on the black market has been a huge issue. Some had kidnapped
children to sell their organs for huge amount of money and people died from
diseased organs purchased in the black-market. With this in our head,
transplanting with organs from animals, instead of using the organs from donor,
can tremendously reduce this type of trade.
On the contrary,
there are some cons, disadvantages, regarding ‘Xenotransplantation’. Recipients
might be infected by unrecognized infectious agents and tremendous spread of
infection through their close contacts or into the huge human population. By
statement from FDA, they commented that “Moreover, infectious agents may not be
readily identifiable with current techniques.” (Fda.gov, 2018)
In addition, there
are risks of shorter life spans of animal organs. Most of animals have much
shorter length of humans, in another term, means that even though there are high
success rate of transplant, there would still be a risk or organs wearing our
or dying before prematurely. Thus, a person would need to have several
transplants over his or her life as the animal’s organs can wear out quickly.
is another concertation regarding ethical issues. In current state, it is
widely known that many animals for the ‘Xenotransplantation’ are also
susceptible to pain and suffering like humans.