Have you ever grown vegetables? Some people believe that growing your own food is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Food is part of the daily cycle of life. Being part of the farming process from start to finish connects you with mother earth and life itself.
But I don’t want to talk about farming vegetables. I want to talk about growing something much stranger. What do you think about growing body parts?
We are living in strange times. It sounds like science fiction but it is becoming a reality. Doctors are slowly learning how to grow human body parts.
Sherrie Williams is the first person in history to grow an ear. And even stranger, she grew it on her arm. She didn’t do it alone and she didn’t do it for fun. She lost part of her natural ear, skull and ear canal to cancer.
Dr. Patrick Byrne is one of the world’s top plastic surgeons in the world and Sherrie’s doctor. He had the idea to grow a replacement ear on Sherrie’s arm. The doctor took tissue from her rib and molded it into the shape of an ear. The tissue was then put under the skin of her arm to grow for months. After the ear was ready, it was time to take it off her arm and put it on the side of her head.
This was the outside of the ear, so it wasn’t as complicated as an eye, a heart or a liver, but in the future, we will be able to grow these organs. Today, the wait for transplants is very long. In the Washington DC area, it takes about 6 months to get a liver transplant. Waiting for a heart transplant could take years. And even if you are lucky enough to get one, there is no guarantee that your body will not reject an organ from someone else. What if we could grow our own liver, or grow our own heart?
Maybe one day it will become so easy, that some people will choose to have extra organs. How would you like bigger lungs to run faster or an eye in the back of your head? How about an extra thumb? The possibilities are endless. What would you change about your body, if you could?