Volume 91, Issue 61

Friday, January 16, 1998

Mr. Rogers


Cloning not a big deal

Re: Dr. Evil and his evil twin doctor, Jan.9

To the Editor:
Warning: Reading the following sentence may cause trauma to those suffering from "sciencephobia."

I truly believe that cloning human organs would be a great leap forward. One that could greatly benefit humankind.

Currently, there are two major problems with organ transplants. The first is that, most of the time, you have to wait for some unlucky guy/gal to die and leave healthy organs behind. Sometimes this can be a long wait.

The second is that the body of the transplant recipient recognizes the dead person's organ as alien tissue. This means that often, the transplant recipient's immune system will attack or reject the new organ, regardless of the fact that it has no alternative organ to perform the required function.

At times, the latter problem can be solved by anti-rejection drugs which have unpleasant side-effects. Either way, both problems could be eliminated if, when your heart or liver expires, instead of waiting for Fred to die and hoping your body won't reject his organs, a new one (exactly like your old one) could be cloned from your own genes.

Unfortunately, I didn't read the original article on which Mr. Pugsley's letter is based, so I have no idea how the leap from cloning human organs to cloning human beings was made, but rest assured that human beings are not built like cars. You can't clone Bob's liver and Bob's brain and Bob's intestines, etc. and stick them all together to make Bob. Human assembly is a bit more complex than that.

But suppose you really could clone people. It's actually not a big deal. Nature does it all the time. The clones are called identical twins and they often wind up with significantly different personalities. Factor in the generation gap that would arise from artificial cloning and a clone of Saddam Hussein is almost as likely to wind up as a frumpy house-husband as an evil military dictator.

As for Dr. Richard Seed's claim that by cloning human organs, people could potentially live forever, my response is: "So?" After all, organ transplants are no picnic. They are major operations that leave you bedridden and vulnerable to infections for months. Therefore, how many people do you think are going to want to clone/transplant their heart at age 105, their lungs at 106, their liver at 107, their kidneys at 108, etc. and then repeat it all again when they complete the cycle? Then how many of those people do you think will be able to afford to pay for it?

In the light of all this, I'm finding it a bit hard to take Dr. Evil seriously. Long live Dolly.

Emily Chung
Scholar's Electives III

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Copyright The Gazette 1998