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The ethics of xenotransplantation: a survey of student attitudes.

[Record Source: PubMed]
Xenotransplantation is a burgeoning technology that could provide a solution to the shortage of organs and tissue for transplantation. It does, however, raise many moral and ethical dilemmas. The aim of this study was to evaluate undergraduate university students' knowledge and opinions on the controversial practice. Choice of science or arts subjects and gender were also assessed to establish if they were influencing factors. A total of 100 students, 50 science students and 50 arts students, answered a questionnaire. Seventy-seven percent of the students had heard of xenotransplantation, 66% believed it would be beneficial to society and only 45% believed it to be ethically and morally acceptable. The medical need for organs was highlighted as the most important argument in favour, and the risk of infection was revealed to be the most important argument against xenotransplantation. The students would significantly prefer a human to non-human animal organ, and did not believe the genetic modification of animals for transplantation was ethically acceptable. This study, in general, did not find that knowledge and acceptance of xenotransplantation was associated with subject background (i.e., science or arts courses) or gender.
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