The important thing to keep in perspective when dealing with a topic like this is why we are growing an organ.
In cases where we are dealing with people who have some kind of health problem that causes an organ not to function properly there is a patient who will not get better unless they receive a substitute in a timely manner, it would certainly be unethical to turn this person back onto the street because there is no option for them. Organs don’t just grow on trees, yet.
When the only option is a manufactured organ, it’s a necessity for modern health care. I’m very clearly not a doctor or scientist of any kind, so my knowledge of stem cells begins and ends with knowing that scientists can do all kinds of things with these cells and they are very versatile. Stem cells are a fantastic asset when it comes to medicine and they can play a big part in organ growth.
In my mind, there isn’t really a question of ethics that surrounds stem cells. They are simply a new and effective tool used to combat numerous health problems. If they are used to grow my neighbour a new kidney, then the only moral dilemma I can think of is if they were actively refusing to create this kidney and wouldn’t give him any kind of help.
Stem cells lying beneath the skin can be used to engineer new skin tissue that can be grafted on to burn victims. There just isn’t an ethical issue there that I can see.
People who are ill deserve our help, and we are obligated to make sure everyone is taken care of.
I once read a book about a young man who lived his entire life only to learn he was a clone created with the intention of eventually having his organs harvested to keep an aging billionaire alive and being evil, and I kind of thought this was a bad idea; I mean, raising a person just to execute him just because you want his kidneys? Dislike.
That being said, I’m not opposed to creating organs. If scientists can grow fully functioning livers in petri dishes and use them to save the lives of so many waiting for an organ donation, that’s pretty great. Considering the fact that so many organs (i.e. hearts) can’t be donated unless the organ’s original donor dies, so a liver grown in a lab from completely harmless cells is A-OK with me.
I do worry about the evil this could span. Will these organs only be available to the super rich, like the villain in my novel? Will it eventually lead to raising people full of healthy organs meant to be donated? Or will it create creepy, floating torsos in tanks in labs, so passersby will be horrified by the sight?
If these scientifically grown organs can be offered to the masses, to the people who would otherwise die without new organs, I’m totally in favour. If the organs will become another commodity to be sold off to the highest bidder, and used to keep the world’s wealthy healthier, longer, then I’m not really cool with that. Make it equal and fair for all, though, and you’ve got a deal.