Science is a wonderful thing because it’s an unlimited field by nature. The burden of proof works in favor for scientists. Since little can be proven impossible, it means that virtually anything is possible. This corny but true phrase has lead to yet another scientific breakthrough known as organ printing.
What Is Organ Printing
Organ printing is the practice of using 3D printers and various polymers to print replacement organs for humans and animals. Cellular adhesion molecules are also used to help the artificial organ bond with your biological organs.
Research and development in this field is ongoing, but functional organ tissue have already been produced. There have been great leaps made in the past decade when this technology first started making waves. It’s a simple concept, printing living tissue and organs, but it’s more complex than it sounds. It’s not as simple as printing a report in your standard printer. The complexity of bio-printing successful tissue required thousands of hours of intense research before a big breakthrough was made. This is a major accomplishment, but it’s not all clear skies from here. There are many concerns with the practice as well.
Ethical Issue of Immortality
With scientific advances, there are always ethical concerns. Organ printing has a long list of ethical issues to consider, the most interesting being the bionic human debate. With head transplants and artificial organs, we are getting closer and closer to creating a bionic human. This would give the affluent an unfair advantage over the rest of society.
Synthetic organs would be designed flawlessly, and could even be enhanced by using a cell-structure that is stronger than the typical human cell. This is not a walk in the park, but with enough research and ingenuity, it’s possible to master the production of enhanced organs. Since 3D printed organs are too expensive for the average person to afford, they would only be readily available to the ultra-rich. This would mean that wealthier people would be walking around with organs that were more durable, not prone to disease, and less likely to malfunction. They wouldn’t get sick as often and wouldn’t be subject to normal human deficiencies. In essence, they would become superhuman or even immortal.
This is an ethical issue because enhancing a human past what is natural could disrupt the rhythm of mother nature. We already have a population or overconsumption problem and enhanced organ printing could amplify that. I’m all for increasing our life expectancy, but I would rather see it done in natural ways. Improvements to diet and diet and natural supplements my two favorite ways to help increase my life expectancy. At a certain level, we have to let nature take its course. I also support transplants but haven’t fully come to terms with things like head transplants or organ printing. I would love to see people with failing organs get a second shot at life, but could also see organ printing getting abused like many other technological advances.
What About You?
The practice of bio-printing has not been accepted as a normal way of restoring your body back to health. It’s till in its infancy and has a long way to go. However, scientists have been able to successfully print live tissue to repair damaged organs. It’s only a matter of time before complete and complex organs are being printed with consistency. When that time comes, which may be sooner than you think, you may be faced with a decision to make.
If you were in need of a new organ, would you rather have a 3D-printed organ or be put on a waiting list for a human organ transplant? There is no gurantee of ever getting a transplant from a human. It would depend on the waiting list time and on how many organs become available for transplantation. Assuming the list wasn’t too long and it looked like you would be able to get a transplant before dying, which would you choose?
The other question that you might be faced with is: would you want to upgrade your organs if this technology became easily accessible? It’s a real possibility that the technology advances and becomes cheap much like a personal computer. PCs were once too expensive for your average person, not they’re in almost every household in America. When organ printing reaches that level of accessibility, would you want to upgrade your organs?
My theory is, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I wouldn’t upgrade my organs, but I would probably accept a bio-printed organ if I were in need. I don’t think I would want it to be enhanced but would rather have one that was printed with normal human functionality.