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Today we face the possibility of babies getting organs grown in human/nonhuman chimeras — beasts that are pigs except for a single human organ. To the uninitiated, this may sound more like the dark arts than modern medicine, but pursuing careful research and potential clinical use of these chimeras is both proper and important.

Every day about 30 Americans die because they can’t get an organ transplant. Upward of 120,000 Americans are on transplant waiting lists. We are, medically, on the cusp of being able to save these lives in new ways: repairing failing organs with new genes or stem cells, building mechanical organs and growing replacement organs.

The latter holds the most promise for scaling up to meet the need. Growing organs inside humans for harvest is, thankfully, only the stuff of dystopian science fiction. Doing it in labs is being tried but is difficult. But there is another plausible alternative: growing human organs in other animals.

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Image: By Yathin S Krishnappa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24506174

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Los Angeles Times

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