An Uncomfortable Admission
Organ transplantation is widely acknowledged as a medical marvel, originally pioneered by courageous physicians and biomedical researchers. Admittedly, the scientific manipulations required to perform a successful, long-term transplant is impressive. However, if one focuses too much on the technical aspects of transplantation, he could miss the underlying foundation for such procedures: organ donations made by compassionate people. Whether by checking ‘Yes” for post-mortem organ donation of one’s driver’s license or by agreeing to give a kidney to a needy family member, organ transplants are predicated on the willing bestowment of an organ from one person to another. What would happen if there was no choice involved?
This question is explored both in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and The Island (Michael Bay, 2005). Both works empathize with the mandatory donors, who have no choice but to give up their organs. These clones are coerced into bequeathing their organs to members of society who have either paid for an “insurance plan” (The Island) or are entitled to the body parts as citizens (Never Let Me Go). Now, it is easy to label those who accept organs without consent from fellow human beings as evil or unethical. Still, we have to remember that we are making judgments far outside the realm of possibility. It takes no effort to condemn from our perspective, but imagine that you are dying and a potential solution is available: a perfectly healthy replacement organ… from a clone. If your life depended on it, how could you deny a transplant?
Although it makes me uncomfortable to admit, I believe I would accept an organ from a person cloned to be an organ donor; the caveat being that it is necessary for me to keep living. For all of those who shake their heads in haughty judgment at this admission: you simply refuse to acknowledge what humans are capable of doing in the face of death. Take a look at this article:
“Survivors of a nightmarish shipwreck resorted to cannibalism to stay alive 24 days at sea, according to one survivor cited in a government report.
Only two of the 60 Dominicans believed to have crowded onto the boat, which hit a coral reef off Haiti and sank last Thursday, survived. Another person who lived through the ordeal died in a Haitian hospital Friday.
The report said 19-year-old Carlos Pinales told a Cuban physician, Dr. Jorge Carlo, that he and others ran out of food and water and had to drink seawater and find other sources of food. The ill-fated migrants were trying to reach Puerto Rico illegally.
“One of the survivors who spoke with the doctor said … they had been without food or water for so much time that they began to eat the flesh of the people who had died,” said the report. Pinales said fights broke out among the voyagers after the vessel had engine problems and drifted for 24 days. Some people were injured in the fights, but it was not clear if those injuries led to any deaths.”
If humans are capable of eating one another in modern times as a means of survival, how can one deny that he would be willing to accept an organ from another person in order to survive? Consider that the organ would be withdrawn in a humane way (anesthesia, proper post-operative care). We are capable of gruesome things when faced with dying. Accepting an organ from a clone is not nearly the worst thing we would resort to in order to avoid death.