Problem Solved? #1 Organ Donor Shortage

There are a host of issues in our world that we are nowhere near solving. Take drunk driving, we try to find that sweet spot between how to punish the problem, and prevent the problem, and even outsmart the problem. For all that we do, though, people still drink and then drive.

But what if instead of trying to figure out the problem, we eliminated it. In this series called “Problem Solved?” I take a look at issues that perplex us and how we might win the battle by erasing the war via technology.

Today, we look at organ shortage.

The wait lists for transplants are long and many die in wait. The situation is dire. Healthy people just don’t donate an adequate amount of organs in life or posthumously to keep up with demand for those in need of kidneys, heart, etc.

Campaigns are common to try and get people to donate. Facebook just started one. Others have called for the right to financially compensate someone for their organs. (Today, it is illegal to pay someone for doing so.)

But instead of banging our heads against the wall trying to find more donors, or debating the morality of being able to sell body parts, how about we use technology to eliminate the problem by increasing supply?

Growing organs is on the horizon, both by way of 3D printing technology–literally printing organs–and by way of something being innovated right here in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. There, doctors are reprogramming regular cells from your body to become stem cells–the cells we have as embryos that become the parts of our infant body.

By reprogramming our adult cells, and then injecting them into a problem area of a patient, they can act like stem cells by recreating and repairing the issue–for example, a bad heart valve.

Either by growing/printing organs or by reprogramming cells, these represents how technology can address the problems of our world not by changing laws or creating campaigns, but by simply eliminating them.

Here’s a great video explaining this particular and exciting technology at the Mayo Clinic.

to new plateaus,

Doctor at the Mayo Clinic showing newsman, Bill Weir, what he's doing with the cells.

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  1. Pingback : The Right to Life; The Right to End It. « New Plateaus

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