Animal spare parts? A Canadian public consultation on xenotransplantation

Sci Eng Ethics. 2002 Oct;8(4):579-91. doi: 10.1007/s11948-002-0010-9.


Xenotransplantation, or the use of animal cells, tissues and organs for humans, has been promoted as an important solution to the worldwide shortage of organs. While scientific studies continue to be done to address problems of rejection and the possibility of animal-to-human virus transfer, socio-ethical and legal questions have also been raised around informed consent, life-long monitoring, animal welfare and animal rights, and appropriate regulatory practices. Many calls have also been made to consult publics before policy decisions are made. This paper describes the Canadian public consultation process on xenotransplantation carried out by the Canadian Public Health Association in an arm's length process from Health Canada, the ministry overseeing government health policy and regulation. Focusing on six citizen for a conducted around the country patterned after the citizen jury deliberative approach, the paper describes the citizen panelists' recommendations to hold off on proceeding with clinical trials and the rationales behind this recommendation. The consultation process is discussed in the context of constructive technology assessment, a framework which argues for broader input into earlier stages of technology innovation, particularly at the technology design stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Rights
  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bioethics*
  • Canada
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Community Participation*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • National Health Programs / ethics
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / ethics*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / ethics*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / psychology