Its hard to imagine a world in which people are grown from tubes and engineered to be precisely what their parents want them to be– an athlete, a brain, musically gifted, fair haired. The list of “desirable” traits goes on forever. A possibly even more frightening and looming reality could be a world where people could clone themselves to make essentially a living breathing insurance policy. Gone will be the day where an organ transplant list is a stressful wait and a race against the clock. All you need do is tell your clone it is time for them to sacrifice a major organ and their life for you. Only one snag, however, the clones are human too. This issue is explored in the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is also the central issue in House of the Scorpion. (I previously and briefly discussed this novel in my last entry).
The real question is this: if you were dying and needed an organ, would you take the life of your own clone to save yours?
It is an interesting and certainly morbid thing to discuss. My answer is a resounding NO, however, for a few reasons. I believe fully and completely that even clones are human. They (if they were as depicted in the novels and in my imagination) are completely capable of thought and emotion and reason. The idea of growing them and then harvesting them like common livestock is repulsive to me. There is absolutely no way this should ever be allowed or even considered. Science is closer to actually cloning and growing individual organs than they are to cloning a full fledged human being. To me, this track is much more sensible and humane and for sure worth pursuing.
Never Let Me Go touched me in a profound way and I hope that our world never comes to that. I would certainly rather die than harvest a replacement organ from a sentient being. I will just keep hoping that more people will do like I do and check that little box on the DMV form: “yes, I would like to be an organ donor”.