Attitude toward xenotransplantation in kidney and liver patients on the transplant waiting list

Transplant Proc. 2005 Nov;37(9):4107-10. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2005.09.187.


Introduction: The deficit in transplant organs is encouraging research into stem cells and xenotransplantation. However, many studies have shown that using animals for human transplantation could be rejected by society. The objective here was to analyze the attitude of patients on the waiting list toward a possible transplant of an organ of animal origin.

Materials and methods: Patients on the waiting list for kidney and liver transplants including last year (n = 96) underwent a direct interview by an independent health professional from the transplant unit. Using a psychosocial survey, an evaluation was made of attitudes toward donation of organs of animal origin and its various options. Student t test and the chi-square test were used for analysis.

Results: If results from xenotransplantation could be superimposed onto those of human transplantation, 71% would accept such an organ. In the case of the kidney, 83% would accept, 4% would not, and 13% have doubts; as opposed to 60%, 12%, and 28%, respectively, of liver cases (P < .05). Supposing that the results were worse than in human organs, only 26% would accept an animal organ. Thus, for kidney, 33% would accept it, 48% would not, and 20% would have doubts; and for liver, it would be 20%, 50%, and 30%, respectively. In a life-threatening situation 98% would accept an animal organ as a bridge of hope in the wait for a human organ. In addition, if the organ functioned correctly, 98% would keep the animal organ, thus avoiding an intervention to substitute a human organ.

Conclusion: If xenotransplantation became a clinical reality, acceptance of an animal organ by patients on the waiting list would be low, especially if the results could not be superimposed onto human ones. Only its use as a bridge until the arrival of a human organ would increase its acceptance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Patient Selection
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous*
  • Waiting Lists*