What do others think?

During 2002-2004, a number of community forums discussed animal-to-human transplantation. These forums were hosted by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the government organisation responsible for looking at ethical considerations in research.

In 2004, after public consultation, the NHMRC produced a report about whether or not clinical trials into animal-to-human transplantation therapies should proceed in Australia.

This report details the considerable feeling in the community against animal-to-human transplantation. Some of the concerns include:

  • the risk of introducing new diseases from animals to humans
  • ethical and social concerns about the welfare of the animals used
  • doubts about the benefits to the patient and whether these outweigh the risks
  • that there is a need for more regulation before proceeding further
  • that funds and resources would be better spent in other areas of medicine.

In response to these concerns, the NHMRC announced that there should be a five-year moratorium - until 2009 - on any clinical research into animal-to-human whole organ transplants in Australia.

The NHMRC has ruled that non-human primates, such as baboons, should never be considered as source animals for any future clinical trials of animal-to-human transplantation. It also requested more time to consider other animal-to-human transplantation therapies.