Kidney xenotransplantation: future clinical reality or science fiction?

Nursing and Health Sciences (forthcoming)
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There is a global shortage of organs for transplantation and despite many governments making significant changes to their organ donation systems, there are not enough kidneys available to meet the demand. This has led scientists and clinicians to explore alternative means of meeting this organ shortfall. One of the alternatives to human organ transplantation is xenotransplantation, which is the transplantation of organs, tissues, or cells between different species. The resurgence of interest in xenotransplantation and recent scientific breakthroughs suggest that genetically-engineered pigs may soon present a realistic alternative as sources of kidneys for clinical transplantation. It is therefore important for nurses and allied health professionals to understand what is involved in xenotransplantation and its future implications for their clinical practices. First, we explore the insufficiency of different organ donation systems to meet the kidney shortage. Second, we provide a background and a summary of the progress made so far in xenotransplantation research. Third, we discuss some of the scientific, technological, ethical, and economic issues associated with xenotransplantation. Finally, we summarise the literature on the attitudes of healthcare professionals toward xenotransplantation.

Author's Profile

Daniel Rodger
London South Bank University


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