A Life for a Life

The first baboon-to-human liver transplant looks successful so far

Protesters outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center carried signs reading animals are not expendable. But for the 35-year-old man recovering inside, the choice had been between life and death. In an 11-hour operation, the unidentified patient received a new liver to replace his own, ravaged by hepatitis B. Since the virus would have also destroyed a replacement human liver, doctors transplanted the organ from a baboon.

It was hardly the first time a human had received an animal transplant; kidneys and hearts have been shifted from chimpanzees, baboons and monkeys into people for decades, though never successfully. What may make...

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