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The dangers of animal-to-human transplants | Letters



Peta scientists have consistently warned that animal-to-human transplants risk transmitting dangerous viruses, so the news that a pig virus may have contributed to the death of David Bennett, the world’s first human recipient of a pig heart, was sadly predictable (Man who received landmark pig heart transplant died of pig virus, surgeon says, 6 May).

After the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed almost 200,000 people in the UK, the public has little appetite for experimenters’ tinkering that potentially exposes the population to viruses that mutate as they jump from species to species. Humane research methods and treatments for cardiovascular disease, including advanced computer modelling and engineered human and plant tissues, are proving far more accurate than these trial-and-error experiments on animals.

Changing US law to presume consent for organ donation, as is the case in England, would make many more human organs available, and xenotransplantation – which is a real killer – should be relegated to the rubbish heap of vanity projects that do more harm than good.
Dr Julia Baines
Science policy manager, Peta


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