Pamela Holds the Future in Her Newly Grown Hand
It was a late evening in December 2038 and Pamela was driving from her home in Aubagne, just outside Marseille in France, to her parents to celebrate Christmas. A trailer from a truck slid over to the wrong side of the road and Pamela got away severely bruised with left hand crushed.
“When I got over the immediate shock from the accident my first thought was that my career in karate was over. Already in the emergency at the hospital I was told that it could grow back again. They even told me that I could go back to karate in the future, but I didn’t believe them”, Pamela says.
After surgical and medical treatment her left hand has now grown back and is fully functioning, just 13 months after the accident. She went back to training after 6 months, with just the stump with five small bumps. Now all the fingers are in the same size as on the right hand so she can perform a correct haito.
Before hand regeneration became common the solution for a person to get a hand back was a hand transplant. It was a quite complicated procedure that was first successfully performed in 1998. The patient had to be on post operation drugs for long time and in some cases it didn’t work out, so the hand had to be removed. In total 152 hand transplants worldwide were performed until the last one in year 2023.
Regeneration had been known with animals for a long time, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this century that breakthroughs were made in humans. We have always been able to grow back a fingertip by ourselves, but by copying how some animals did it, it was transferable to humans.
Pamela is now in full training to fight her way back in to the French karate team for the Olympics later this year in Abuja, Nigeria. “I’m so very fortunate to be able to do this when looking at the pictures of what was left of my hand after the accident. To be able to step in to an Olympic arena representing my country would definitely show that everything is possible!”
Argument: Progress in the understanding of regeneration in mammals gives hope of humans being able to regrow organs and other parts of the body. Ellen Heber-Katz, Ph.D. at the Wistar Institute predicts that we will able to do limb regeneration in a near future. Karate is one of the sports to most likely be added to the Olympics and might be so by year 2020. Even though the safety on the roads will increase by 2040, it will not completely stop accidents to occur.
Questions: Is regeneration a solution for humans to stop aging? What ethical issues are there to regenerate organs?