Xenotransplantation: The challenge to current psychosocial attitudes

Academic Article


  • Because of the limited availability of transplantable human organs, xenotransplantation, the use of animal organs as an alternative source, has received considerable attention in recent years. Xenotransplantation would provide an unlimited supply of organs, and these organs would be available whenever required. Although the pig is considered the best source for organs, significant immunologic barriers currently prohibit the implementation of a clinical trial of organ transplantation. However, as medical research gains more insight into the mechanisms underlying rejection of pig organs in primates, therapeutic xenotransplantation is becoming more feasible. Clinical trials of porcine cell transplants are currently underway. Although xenotransplantation will minimize the waiting period for an organ and obviate the feelings of guilt or indebtedness commonly experienced by recipients of human organs, several psychosocial issues may hinder the reintegration of patients into society. For example, concerns that infectious pathogens could be transferred to recipients of pig organs will necessitate life-long monitoring and perhaps even temporary isolation of patients. The possible risk of the spread of a xenozoonosis from the patient to other members of the community may inspire public controversy and even fear, which may have an adverse impact on the patient's emotional state. Additionally, some patients may be psychologically disturbed by the need to incorporate pig organs into their body. This article addresses these and other psychosocial issues that may be associated with clinical xenotransplantation.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Appel JZ; Alwayn IPJ; Cooper DKC
  • Start Page

  • 217
  • End Page

  • 225
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 4