I know, I know ’tis the wrong place but needs must and all that and typepad has thrown a hissy fit and I am determined to post this on correct day (even if it is not on the right place:(
K is for transplant
It is time for more of those powerful magic makers, those who control life and death. Every world build ought to have them. Different from natural magic, such as waterfalls, rainbows and the like, this magic is studied and many long years go into the making.
This magic did not appear very early in the world’s existence, indeed very late. Much application through the millennium was needed, because, this is as powerful as the use of genetics. Scientists certainly aided these magicians but doctors, surgeons have to apply the spells.
We have to try to imagine the horror- horror? I am convinced it would have been horror – when this was first broached as a fit subject to pursue. If these particular scientists and doctors would use more melodious language their novels would outsell Stephen King in no time! I am a writer and would love to have their mind set to feed my imagination.
Picture the thought – the what if?
‘Let’s take a part of a body from this corpse and sew it into someone living!!!’
I was an adult when news of the first successful heart transplant whirled around the globe. In 1967 Christian Barnard from South Africa was the man, was the name on everyone’s lips. Amazing, stupendous achievement!! His patient only survived 10 days yet, yet, the deed was done and over the next 2 years another 100 operations were performed. Survival rate was still only 60 days, but Barnard’s second attempt had the patient surviving 19 months. For someone who was going to die soon, an extra 2 or 19 months may seem like a bonus. By 1984 survival rates had gone up to 5 yrs or more. Before I move on – think about it – this man transplanted a heart from one being into another being and it beat!!
Where did that first idea come from?
There are myths from ancient Rome, Greece and China of Gods and Goddess’s performing transplants.
It is believed that by 800 BC Indian doctors had begun to graft skin, using the patients own skin, to help burns.
In the 16th century an Italian, Gasparo Tagliacozzi, had begun to reconstruct noses and ears from the patients own skin.
The secret of these last two successes lies in the fact that nothing alien was being introduced.
It is almost sure, many attempts had been made over the centuries. Mankind would have found the challenge to great to resist. However, this magic was long in the coming because, other magicians had to do their work first. Science had to come up with the answer to some pretty stiff barriers to success. Not least of which was the body’s tremendous and formidable resistance to anything ‘not mine’. The immune system is a magical thing in itself, think of all those bacteria and virus in the world, all the accidents and illness’s waiting to gain a toehold. How many times did we die of them? Very few times, everything considered. The body knows itself well, and doesn’t take kindly to having strange things being foisted on/in it.
Until the immune system was understood, there was no chance. Using the patients own skin was ok, the body would recognise it.
Then, when it was understood, some means of persuading this argumentative system to accept an organ from someone else, maybe alive but usually dead. Why would it?
Even when that was done, there was the problem of the quality of the organ to be inserted into another; decay begins immediately death has visited. To keep an organ in a fit state to transplant, needed a great deal of thought, skill and the efforts of many.
In 1909 a rabbit kidney was transplanted into a child, who died two weeks later
1933 there was an attempt at a human-human kidney transplant, but they did not know about tissue/blood matching – the patient died
The first successful kidney transplant was in 1954 – successful because it was between identical twins – so no reason for rejection.
As the 1950s wore on, drugs to suppress the immune system became more effective, the success rate slowly increased.
They never give up these ‘wise men’ of magic!
of Pancreas 1966
of Liver 1967
Heart and lung 1981
Partial face 2005
Double Arm 2008
Full face 2010
Double leg 2011
At the moment, in the UK, 1000 people a year die while awaiting a transplant, of some kind or other. Kidney transplants are common-place, however the list of donors cannot keep up with the list of those wishing to have a transplant.
Now there are more problems arising. Because people expect this amazing life giver, because the list of those waiting transplants grows faster than donors can be found (tissue/blood have to be a match even with immunosuppressants) New ethical questions raise their heads.
Donations from the dead, you would think would not present problems; sign a donor card in life and ensure your nearest and dearest understand your wishes. However, this business of the viability of the organ, means the fresher the organ is, the better.
What is ‘dead’? Should a person who is brain dead be kept ‘alive’ with machines, to preserve the organs, receive treatment which is of no use, except for someone else?
Should someone who has died from cardiac/ respiration failure, have the heart restarted, so that it can be transplanted in another? These are two of the questions being asked now.
Another is that of the ‘exploitation’ of those in financial need from the richer patients, sometimes leading to a black market in organ trafficking with resultant kidnap and murder. There is money to be made – but is it moral or ethical to buy an organ?
There has been a suggestion that cloning for organs would be acceptable. If just cloning organs. Maybe. The fear of many is that whole people will be cloned (as you never know which organ would be needed) the stuff of nightmares – but, what if? Eventually kill your clone. Have you read ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro?
Is this another of those escapees from Pandora’s Box?