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Available Expert - Scientists keep pig brains alive outside of bodies, raising ethical questions

Monday, April 30, 2018

Queen’s University bioethicist Udo Schuklenk is available to comment on the ethical questions raised by a recent experiment by scientists at Yale University that revived the brains of nearly 200 pigs and kept them alive outside of their bodies for three days.

“The ethics of artificially keeping the brains of decapitated pigs alive pigs is complex. Pigs are higher mammals capable of experiencing pain and suffering,” says Dr. Schuklenk. “Accordingly, they deserve - at a minimum - the same protections as other higher mammals used for research purposes. It is far from clear that this was guaranteed in the research reported globally.”

He continues: “Other issues, arguably of greater significance, are these: If, over time, as this research progresses, we're able to achieve something similar for human brains, what is the moral status of these brains? Could this research be a means to bring us closer to immortality? Is immortality desirable?”

NOTE: Dr. Schuklenk is current Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics.

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