Did You Know?
The first artificial lab-grown organ was created on April 4, 2006 by a team of biologists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, led by Professor Anthony Atala. It was a bladder grown from a small tissue of the patient's own bladder.
The human body is a complex machine, and still remains a mystery even after years of medical research. All the organs in the body work individually, yet in conjunction with other organs to ensure that its parent (the human being) remains healthy. However, there are many diseases and infections that, if not treated on time, can lead to organ failure, which may further lead to complications and in certain instances death. Generally, in case of organ failure, replacing it with a healthy organ or an artificial organ are the probable options available. An artificial organ is a man-made device which is used as a replacement of the natural organ, in order to restore the related functioning of the organ.
Every organ in the body has some special stem cells which are unique to that organ. These stem cells are isolated and kept under favorable conditions to grow in a lab. The cells are seeded with the mold which resembles the organ, and left to grow. Within a few weeks, the cells grow, and the mold gets disintegrated further, leaving just the organ. This newly-grown organ is then used to replace the old organ in the patient's body. Sometimes, synthetic material is also used along with stem cells to form an artificial organ.
The first synthetic trachea implantation was done in 2011, in Sweden, for a 36-year-old cancer patient. It was done with the help of stem cells taken from his hip which were treated with growth factors, and incubated on a plastic replica of his natural trachea. Though there are many apparent advantages of artificial organs, some disadvantages do exist. Let us find out both pros and cons of artificial organs, which you might not be aware of.
Pros of Artificial Organs
The benefits associated with artificial organs have proved that this technology is a new gift of life to ailing patients. Following are some of the pros of using artificial organs.
- Artificial organs can replace diseased or damaged organs, thereby, providing the ailing patient with an opportunity to lead a healthy and normal life.
- Artificial organs can meet the huge demand of healthy donor organs. There is a huge list of patients who are in urgent need of healthy organs but are unable to find a suitable willing donor.
- A major stumbling block in the form of organ rejection can be solved due to artificial organs. As artificial organs are created by taking the stem cells of the same person and of the same organ, the possibility of rejection has been reduced significantly.
- With the help of regenerative medicine or artificial organ therapy, burn victims can even have a new skin.
- The time taken to create or grow an artificial organ is lesser than waiting period for finding a suitable donor whose organ matches with the recipient's body perfectly.
Cons of Artificial Organs
Where the advantages seem credible and truly revolutionary, there are a few negative points or disadvantages that cannot be ignored.
- A major concern is the possible presence of the disease in the base tissue which is used to create the organ. Sometimes, even a foreign body tissue is used to regenerate or reconstruct the organ. In such cases, there is a possibility that the tissue is already infected by other diseases.
- The entire cost of growing and transplanting an artificial organ is prohibitive, and thus, limit the scope of its application to the general public.
- There are high chances of organ failure, and the body may even take some time to adapt to the new organ. How the body reacts to the new organ may vary from person to person. If there is a problem with the functioning of the organ, you might need to go for another transplant.
- There are some ethical issues related to artificial organs. There is a possibility that people might misuse the option of an artificial organ. In case of smoking, people may not take the consequences seriously, and go for artificial organ therapy instead of avoiding nicotine. It may also happen that people who can afford this treatment may just opt for it to improve their organ condition and not to save their life.
Artificial organs or regenerative medicine has given mankind a new hope in the medical field to save lives. Instead of waiting for several months for a suitable donor, choose a solution that has a lesser chance of rejection, and a greater chance of saving you or your loved one's life. Consult an expert, and make an informed decision.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.