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Accident: A view into the future of organ replacement...

Listen to the podcast: Accident:A view into the future of organ replacement.

Mira Chu is always in a rush, she got up today filled with particular excitement as it is her first day giving the inaugural speech at the Institute of Exoplanetary Studies. Mira joined the institute 3 years ago in 2045 and had been deep in her studies of the spectral characteristics of the 50 or so Earth class planets found decades previous by the Kepler Satellite mission. She was anxious to report her findings regarding the specific bio signatures emanating from 43 of those 50 worlds.

Unfortunately for Mira today, she tends to get her mind very wrapped up in her work and today was so focused on the talk that she failed to heed the pick up truck making a quick turn before the light as she charged across the intersection unaware that the light was about to switch. The truck struck her with more force than one would expect given the fact it was turning. She was knocked out of the intersection and into a light pole on the other side of the street, her side taking the brunt of the impact. Blunt force trauma can be particularly nasty on the internal organs. Mera's impact with the street pole caused her liver to immediately rupture, as individuals that witnessed the event rush to administer her aid and call ambulances Mira passes out...

In 2010 one of several advances that we'll soon see applied to aid Mira was made. A team of researchers was able to de-differentiate blood back to a stem cell state, which could then be re-differentiated to any other cell tissue type. This wasn't the first time such a process was performed, it had been done from skin and some other tissues as well in the previous couple of years. The technology was originally invented in 2006/7 and was dubbed iPSC (induced pluropotent stem cells) it quickly advanced as a method for creating stem cells from already differentiated somatic cells. The revolution that lay in this process was inherent in the fact that if you can coax a stem cell into various cell types you can watch the expression patterns of the dna genes activated between tissue types in the lab. It would be like having the biological equivalent of the "diff" function for document comparison tools. This would then allow researchers to quickly isolate the expressed genes that are unique to each cell type and determine how the stem cell triggers their differentiation "song"...once that is figured out per tissue type researchers would start looking at how each "song" plays in sequence to create developmental processes like the growth of a lung or a heart from the initial cellular seed. These advances were made quickly by 2017 researchers could coax any cell to become any other cell for a given period of time before dedifferentiating back to a stem like state using chemical markers. In 2022 all of the tissue types of the human body were genetically mapped using iPSC stem cell research methods. It was in 2017 however that the real fun started. If a cell could be differentiated to a specific tissue type could it be possible to trigger the developmental pathway of an entire organ? This research was started and by 2020 the first organ (a liver) was developed fully from a de-differentiated stem cell it was an achievement that ushered in the industry of organ replacement using ones own grown organ. It also meant the death of the previous industry of scaffold grown organs which prior to this advance was the only way (well that and the earlier mechanical organs...hearts,etc. of the previous century) to create artificial organs as using stem cells alone failed to trigger the developmental pathways of the organ growth process that produced the vascular and nervous systems of the organ, the new method activated the same developmental process that is activated in a growing fetus in the womb and so was complete with formation of all associated internal structures and geometry for the produced organ.

This takes us back to Mira, who now is in the back of an ambulance being treated for her wounds, the medics have determined she has severe internal hemorrhaging on her right side. As they notice her coming in and out of consciousness they rummage through her bag to find her organ insurance card. Once organs could be expressed in their full developmental glory in a vat of nutrients shortly after 2022, start ups sprang into action to try and satisfy the demand for facile access to organ replacements in case of accidents. The process of organ donor search had all but disappeared as people simply bought insurance with a company that would set up a plan with a client to allow them to purchase insurance and schedule a lab visit. At the lab the company would take a sample of the clients DNA using a cheek swab or a blood sample and then the researchers would de-differentiate the cells from the swab back to specific cell types(heart, lung, kidney, liver, skin, pancreas, bone) even specific bones could be regrown to specific developmental levels. Of course the insurance would charge additional rates for insuring more organs. Once the organs are matured they would be stored in life vats where they are kept in stasis for potential implantation at any time to the tissue donor. The rapid growth of organs would be achieved as direct oxygenation and providing of nutrients could be made, the organs would be pristine.

As the ambulance rushes to the nearest trauma facility, her information and the hospital where she is going to be treated is transmitted to the insurance company so they could be prepped to take her organs out of stasis. Shortly after arriving at the hospital and given triage it is determined that her liver is too badly damaged to be repaired in vivo and the call is made to have her insured liver copy shipped to her present location. Luckily her premium covers copies of her organs being available within 1 hour of her areas of defined areas of coverage. As the insurance company receives the call a helicopter is loaded with the pristine liver and begins it's trip the 178 miles to her hospital location, eta: 48 minutes.

The date is Tuesday, June 16th 2048 and Mira Chu is coming out of sedation. As she comes to, she sees her husband Andre looking down at her with a smile on his face. She fights the confusion of waking in a hospital bed for a few seconds and remembers what happened. She feels a slight bit of discomfort along her side and looks to notice the bandages around the area. She's glad to be alive, Andre leans forward and tells her she'll be just fine. She had the surgery for the liver replacement and it was routine, most such transplants are successful and there hasn't been a rejected organ from any recipient of the organs provided by the insurance companies since the inception of such services nearly 25 years earlier. Inside Mira's body her pristine liver is situating itself to the first body it has been a part of, the high efficiency and lack of exposure to disease like real organs makes transplanted organs particularly good at their functions. In fact they tend to be particularly robust to abuses of substances by their owners. In the case of the liver alcohol and a high Calorie diet, neither is a problem for Mira who was a teetotaler, though after this experience she might want to have a drink but at the moment, after realizing everything is okay all she can think about is giving her talk on the exoplanet bio-signatures, it is her only worry in the world.



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