Artificial Organs And Other Body Parts

The search for artificial organs and tissues has been proceeding for the past four decades as advances in tissue engineering and bioengineering generally have made possible all sorts of off-the-shelf life-sustaining products.52 Research is currently ongoing in the development of artificial lungs, livers, hearts, pancreases, corneas and other organs and tissues; and the expectation is that we will have these available in the 21st century.53

Earlier clinical efforts with implanting mechanical hearts in the 1980s raised ethical concerns about human experimentation, the use of such devices as a temporary bridge to transplantation, and the justice of spending limited research dollars to benefit so few who are often at the later stages of their lives.54 Future use of more artificial organs and tissues will raise similar ethical issues of distributive justice in a U.S. health care system that still denies full access for those seeking primary and preventive medical care, particularly those artificial body parts to be used in high-tech lifesaving that will likely only be available to those with the personal or insurance dollars to pay for it.55

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