Thursday, June 07, 2001

Just yesterday I posted a couple links about a fascinating kidney transplant. Did any of you find the idea of transplanting a kidney repulsive, immoral, or unnatural? Did any of you even pause at the now routine reporting of an organ transplant? Honestly, it never even showed up on my ethical radar screen. Should it have shown up there?

Consider this...Frederica Mathewes-Green writes about Frankenmonkey, an experiment conducted by Robert White. In the experiment, White transplanted the head of one monkey onto the decapitated body of another monkey....and the monkey lived for several days! White reportedly came up with the experiment out of a desire to help quadriplegics regain the use of a healthy body (albeit someone else's). Does this kind of a "transplant" seem immoral, unnatural, or repulsive? Is it just because we aren't used to "transplants" of this kind? Mathewes-Green suggests that there are other reasons that we find the idea of Frankenmonkey unsettling. Even aside from ethical considerations, I'm sure that this kind of a transplant couldn't be performed on humans with any degree of reliability for years, if ever. It does raise a number of interesting questions, however. What makes a liver or kidney transplant different from a head transplant? Is one right and the other wrong, both right, both wrong? What constitutes the individual person -- a whole body, one's own God-given head & body, what about one's whole body, but with spare parts belonging to other people? I'll admit to not having given a lot of thought to many of the questions surrounding transplants, so I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

By the way, I first saw both the kidney transplant link and the Frankenmonkey link at Chuck Colson's Breakpoint website, which I highly recommend for at least weekly visits.

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