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Illegal Beings: Human Clones






Disease Prevention and Treatment

Cloning for BioEthicists

by José F. Jaramillo Vásquez

Cloning for Bioethicists trys to narrow existing gaps between those who reject cloning as a means of saving lives and those who advocates for the development of such technique in order to offer human beings a realistic possibility of enjoying a much healthier and prolonged existence.

Last year about 2.4 million people died in USA. From those, nearly ¾ of a million did it of heart disease, more than ½ million of cancer, almost 160,000 of cerebrovascular disease, over 100,000 of emphysema, nearly 60,000 of diabetes, 50,000 more of car accidents, 25,000 of liver disease, and the rest of causes ranging from AIDS and influenza to suicide and homicide according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Data from the World Health Organization states that deaths for its member countries throughout the earth were tenfold, which means that because of the first six causes more than 1,6 million ceased to exist in USA, and more than 16 million in the WHO’s member countries. Whole world numbers are much higher, though unfortunately not available.

In the meantime almost 20,000 transplants were done in the USA (11,409 kidneys, 4,166 livers, 2,292 hearts and 942 lungs among them) and according to the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation in the world were transplanted 48,541 hearts and 11,608 lungs, saving 5% of related victims in USA, or a tiny 0,7% worldwide, meaning that transplantation, an anyhow unnatural practice which implants a strangers’ organ into another body, is far away from solving the problem, being the lack of adequate donors the main reason (in USA alone more than 36,000 registrations for kidney transplants were made during the same period), placing many thousands of patients of all kinds throughout the globe in a sort of indefinite and frightening “death row”, circumstance that regrettably causes a number of deaths and serious injuries among hundreds of innocent people forcibly abducted to remove from them transplantable organs in order to supply an increasing unlawful market. Furthermore survival rates are still quite low because of tissue rejection and many other causes. A transplantation which allows a patient to enjoy a healthy and full existence, as chronologically measured with the local span average, is rather a weird rarity.

More than 1,5 million human beings die yearly in USA and over a staggering 18 million in the whole world because of organ failure of different kinds. Most cease to exist because either their heart, brain, lung, pancreas, liver, kidneys, or any other vital organ fail to fulfill its functions. Excepting aging and other major impediments, probably a third (half million lives in USA alone and more than six million in the globe) could in a future be saved every year from premature demise if their death causing organs were opportunely restored with healthy and brand new ones.

Since transplants are not the panacea, science should provide with a more efficient instrument. One that imitates nature, as for example happens with crabs and other crustaceans when losing an organ: their DNA replication mechanisms order to reproduce an identical copy. To clone it.

Therefore cloning might be the tool to rescue the lives of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of persons, let alone all those who would recover their precious sight with cloned eyes, or their lost teeth, or any organ which could be replicated with cloning mechanisms, either in the body itself, as would happen with an extirpated kidney or an uterus, or in laboratory, as might be done with a heart or a liver before being implanted. Proceeding from their own genes tissue rejection does not occur, and the organs would reach the same size according to their age. Genetics also would provide means to correct congenital failures and acquired deficiencies, and even to reverse decay, which would heal the patient and extend its life for as long as possible.

After Dolly’s breakthrough, evidence quickly pointed toward the possibility of cloning humans. Reactions have been mixed, giving place to a couple of utmost tendencies. One, personified by those mostly motivated by abstract metaphysical dogmas, who systematically reject cloning as a valid and worthy way to save millions of lives, let alone the possibility of cloning entire humans. And other current, not so strident, quietly promoting a world where a healthy and long life would be the common denominator, and from where humankind someday would conquer the cosmos, given the prospect of traversing galaxies while both crews and passengers of complex spacecraft would routinely clone themselves in order to make those interstellar trips possible and whenever opportunities arise to spread all forms of life on planets where it might be feasible and desirable.

Since “bioethics” became into a word reflecting dissimilar notions, many of the first ones adopt radically antagonizing positions by arguing that creating life is a God’s only privilege, though it seems that no word against human acts of creating life unequivocally exists in ancient Christian, Muslim, or Jewish holy books, for instance. They use to call themselves as “religious ethicists.” Their stand against cloning, even as means to save millions of lives, rejects any possibilities of extending man’s life. Only death, at any age and under most circumstances should be acceptable.

Then are lots of the second ones also arguing to have the Creator on their side, under the belief that God made man in its image and after its likeness giving it dominion over every living thing upon the earth, man itself included. Thus they see no reason as to refrain from creating life itself if such feat would be possible. On their camp concepts of bioethics are also linked to what they name “the ethics of life,” meaning that the most ethical mission of human beings should be to save from early death as many as possible, giving them all available chances to live and enjoy a long and happy life. Some fare even further, when favoring cloning to forestall what is foreseen as virtual holocausts of millions who probably would fancy a healthier and prolonged existence by being saved from the paws of suffering and early death if cloning research and development were not blockaded. They do not want to burden upcoming generations with a sort of collective guilt caused by the certainty of their ancestors having obstructed the saving of perhaps millions who otherwise would have lived longer, if only plain common sense would have then prevailed.

In spite of their sharp differences, invoking God and life as the greatest catalyzers trust that such apparently irreconcilable positions finally find common ground for the sake of a better and more just world where we would relish all the benefits of science, and a healthy, long, and fruitful life. We should not fear cloning. Nero, Hitler, and Rasputin are dead and exist not even a bit of their DNA to be cloned; and if they were, political, economical and social circumstances are far from propitious for their eventful comeback. We should better fear the gruesome output of clandestine experimentation performed by many would be Frankensteins encouraged by stern prohibitions. And to clone in bulk any particular kind of people would be foolish and practically unnecessary. The specter of a New Brave World is as too far away as the one of a Big Brother. Massiness and a centralized mind control were the most worthy goals of the now dying Industrial Revolution, while the Information Age would only succeed in an environment of maximum diversification, and paradoxically all cloning and related technologies would play a very big role in achieving it. And God would not put an instrument as cloning on man’s hands, if it was not for its own good. Perhaps its ultimate and most grandiose goal is to watch its own creatures recreating themselves.