Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cloning dogs and organs

I just read about scientists in South Korea who cloned five dogs. This after reading the book, Never Let Me Go , by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm not recommending the book, unless of course, you want to take a ride into Creepsville. This is a story from the perspective of a woman who was a clone. She was raised with other clones for the purpose of organ donation. Perhaps it was so unsettling for me because it didn't seem too far removed from the possible.

As the gap widens between the "haves" and the "have nots" I think there will be a lot of things that are unsettling and ringing the truth of "the love of man waxing cold".

An interesting documentary about kidney bargaining in India provides evidence that people are being used as donors unjustly. This documentary reported that the government will pay roughly $1500 for kidney donation, and then the donor can make a bargain with the recipient for whatever amount they can agree upon for the organ donation. Of course, poor people are the ones donating and the rich are basically buying an organ (or life). Is it unjust if the poor are being compensated for their "loss"? What happens when a poor person needs a kidney?

Mostly people who are in debt are offering themselves as donors. One man used his donor money to buy a taxi. He got in an accident and the taxi caught on fire. He was then in the same financial situation as before his donation (Americans are wondering why his insurance didn't pay for his taxi...think about who you are and what you have). One woman who was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings did not have enough money for rent or food. She felt like her only recourse was to sell an organ. What a fascinating picture of class structure and power.

There are those who argue that lives can be saved with the discovery of cloning organs. Is it possible to save everyone from everything? I read an interesting article several years ago by a scientist writing about what would happen if there were no deaths from draughts, famine, and other natural occurances where people can receive food, water, medicine from relief agencies as opposed to natural disasters like earthquakes, etc. where some people inevitably die. He made the point that if everyone was saved from nearly everything it would challenge the natural coming and going of life on the planet. Does that mean we just let people die? His article wasn't about humanitarian efforts, it was about the capability of the earth sustaining life for people when natural (and cyclical) death is prevented. He presented an interesting argument - one that people tend to shy away from because we are programmed to think of death as something to avoid, no matter what. Even if it means test tube babies for the purpose of harvesting organs?

Note: I'm actually impressed by the use of umbilical cords for stem cell research. I'm not sure if I'm all too keen on manufacturing, or cloning life, for the sole purpose of obtaining a particular cell. Something to think about...

carry on.

1 comment:

Suz said...

I have been faced with this attitude since my twins were born. People think that having a twin is like having a "zombie" that is there for no other purpose than to do your bidding. This makes my twins pretty frustrated. They were constantly being told, "If I had a twin sister, I would make her take all my math tests" or "I would make her do all my chores." My twins would say, "She can't make me take her tests, I would tell her, 'No! Take your own darn tests or do your own darn chores.'" They may be physically the same, genetically, but they are two separate, different people. Cloning a person is not going to put the same spirit back into that body. A spirit cannot be in two bodies at once. It is ridiculous and angering to me that anyone would think that a clone is going to be a mindless zombie, it's life not worthy of the same reverence demanded by the one cloned. I think that if/when they actually clone a person, they are going to realize that a clone is also a life. If that doesn't happen, the human race will be in trouble.