Transplanting Animal Organs into Humans

Transplanting Animal Organs into Humans

On September 20, 2023, Lawrence Faucette had a pig’s heart transplanted into his body to replace his own heart, which was in total failure. Xenotransplants, transplanting animal organs into humans, have been tried in the past, but the patient’s immune system destroyed the transplanted organ. Faucette’s animal heart came from a pig that was genetically modified to make it more human-like. After a month, there has been no sign of rejection, and Faucette is in physical therapy. The medical science community is interested in xenotransplants because there is a massive shortage of human organs for transplantation. (Update: Unfortunately, Mr. Faucette passed away on October 30, 2023.)

Many people have questioned the religious implications of xenotransplants. Various Bible passages speak of the human heart but not the physical organ. The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word for “heart” 851 times, primarily referring to the mind of an individual. There are a few cases, like Absalom in 2 Samuel 18:14, Nabal in 1 Samuel 25:37, and Joram in 2 Kings 9:24, where the physical heart is intended. In the New Testament, when Jesus talks about the “pure in heart” in Mathew 5:8 or refers to hard hearts, as in Mark 3:5, these are clearly not references to the physical heart.

The bottom line is that God is not primarily concerned with
the physical organ but with our thinking, attitude, compassion, and capacity to love and serve. What happens to a person’s body is that it will eventually return to the Earth from which it came. Abraham said in Genesis 18:27, “I am but dust and ashes.” Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” The psalmist wrote, “we are dust” (Psalms 103:14), and we “die and return to the dust “(Psalms 104:29).

Doctors have used valves from pig hearts for a long time, with great benefits for those who receive them. Understanding God’s design and creative wisdom opens the door for transplanting animal organs into humans, providing ways to make a human’s short tenure on Earth more pleasant. However, it is ultimately our soul and relationship with God that is of primary concern. Jesus made that abundantly clear when He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: USA Today and