Australia Imposes Five Year Moratorium on Xenotransplantation

In September, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council imposed a five year moratorium on xenotransplantation, prohibiting the transplantation of organs from animals to human beings until more information is known about the potential health risks of such transplants.

National Health and Medical Research Council chairman Alan Pettigrew explained the decision saying,

There were ethical concerns, there were social concerns, but the major area (of concern) were the risks. There were risks to health, not only of the individual but to their immediate family from there to the wider population. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be undertaken. We need at least five years to gain more knowledge before this issue should be considered again.

The council also ruled that even if the moratorium is lifted at some point, that non-human primates should never be used as the source of organs for clinical trials of xenotransplantation.

The council also considered but declined to rule on the use of treatments that utilize animal cells to treat diseases in humans.

The council also considered therapies that use animal cells in human beings, but declined to make a decision saying it needed more information on the health and safety issues involved.


Animal-human transplants frozen. The Sunday Mail (Australia), September 21, 2004.

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