Don’t Be A Pig And Give Me Your Heart

Someone put a pig’s heart inside a dying man’s chest, and so far it works–reason to be cheerful?

Marti Purull

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Image by Lisa Larsen

David Bennett was going to die. His heart couldn’t do it anymore. That simple. He needed a new one. Without getting into the details as to why, he wasn’t eligible to receive a transplant. Not from a human donor, at least. Even if he had been eligible, though, he wouldn’t have been certain to get one in time. Many people don’t. This isn’t about whether the system is fair or not. David Bennet was simply going to die.

He hadn’t given up on living, however. And science never gives up either. Despite all the criticism and all the censorship, those who wonder will continue to wonder, those who look beyond will always look beyond. So there was a heart for Mr Bennett after all: a pig’s heart.

It is still not sure it will work in the long run, but the choice was between dying for sure or doing the transplant, and he chose the latter. It has been done, and a couple of days later, he’s alive, albeit still plugged to a machine. The big news is that the pig’s genes had been edited in advance, with certain porcine genes suppressed and some human genes added in order to reduce the chance of rejection. Imagine the consequences if this breakthrough is confirmed: hearts for everybody.

Nevertheless, I don’t fool myself. There’ll be those who will still say that this is wrong. They’ll say we’re playing God, they’ll say we’re messing with things beyond our grasp. Well, things are certainly beyond their grasp, but not beyond those who made the achievement possible. Human minds.

How many human brains accomplished such a feat? A human mind will get an extra life because of other human minds. Some might be against it on account of the poor pigs. Well, perhaps not too long from now a human mind that gets to live because of a pig’s heart will devise a method by which organs can be created in labs. By then, we will probably already have lab-grown ham, so maybe no pigs at all will have to die.

We fear what we don’t know, we fear what challenges the world as we know it, even if the challenge might result in a better world, at least for some. I also fear the unknown, but it is when I read about this sort…

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Marti Purull

I’m a musician, but I think every day. So I write every day. Thoughts. Reflections. Life.