The prospects for successfully transplanting a baboon liver into a human being have been raised by the well-publicized recent case in which, under the direction of Thomas E. Starzl, MD, a baboon liver was transplanted into a 35-year-old man who died 71 days later after a stroke. It was thought that the patient's hepatitis, which would attack any human liver, would be unable to attack a baboon liver. Starzl's planned future transplants will clarify this point (New York Times. September 9,1992:A9). I only raise an underlying moral question: is a human life more important than the life of any nonhuman animal?
The case presents a pointed opportunity for debate between those who would save a human life at the sacrifice of a baboon, and those who find such salvation morally disgraceful. If it turns out that the use of baboon livers is scientifically feasible, and setting aside questions of just
Post SG. Baboon Livers and the Human Good. Arch Surg. 1993;128(2):131-133. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420140008001