Date: 25th September 2013

Time: 12.30-1.30pm (Please bring lunch with you – tea and coffee will be provided)

Room: Ken Mason Suite, School of Law, Old College

Some biotechnological advances may benefit private individuals but, in so doing, pose risks to individual and public health.  Xenotransplantation is one such example.  If genetically engineered pig solid organ xenotransplants are clinically performed, (un)known infectious diseases may be transmitted to xeno-recipients, contacts, and involved health professionals, and then on to the wider public.  Thus, in seeking to benefit from a xenotransplant the recipient may endanger the health of many others.  In the light of this risk, pre- and post-xenotransplant surveillance regimes have been proposed; regimes which will be lifelong, extensive and intrusive, and challenge established legal and ethical norms.  I argue that such regimes are (and should be) required if clinical xenotransplants are to proceed, and that private benefit should not take precedence to public health in this regard.  Thus, recipients, their contacts and involved health professionals must accept restrictions on their behaviour and lives if they want to receive or be involved in a xenotransplant.  Whether the law can accommodate and provide for this must be addressed before clinical xenotransplants are performed.  If it cannot, and the boundaries and limits of law’s reach are thereby exposed, then this developing biotechnology should not be allowed to clinically proceed.



Dr Sara Fovargue is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Lancaster University and Co-Director, Centre for Bioethics and Medical Law (  Her research largely centres around two areas, biotechnology and reproduction, and is particularly interested in xenotransplantation. Themes within her work include autonomy, risk, regulation, and the relationship between law and ethics. Her research explores legal and ethical aspects of clinical research, regulation and risk, and she has published on the legal regulation of xenotransplantation, and issues surrounding consenting to risk. She is also interested in decision making processes and practices with regard to the ‘vulnerable’.

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MI Seminar: Balancing public health and private benefit: The risk and challenge of xenotransplantation