[Current Events/Opinion] Bio-Bags: Helpful or Harmful? [Written by Brandon Williams]

Image Source: http://www.verge.com

A huge development has taken place in the health sciences department that could possibly be a source of both great controversy and great esteem in the very near future. Recently, 8 premature lambs all between 105-120 days into pregnancy were placed inside artificial wombs which are being referred to as “Bio Bags” for 4 weeks and their growth and development was observed. Throughout the duration of this 4 weeks, the lambs were shown to grow as normal, their brains grew, their lungs grew, they opened their eyes and started to sprout fur. There was even some minor wriggling and movement seen in the subjects. The age in which these fetuses were chosen is the equivalent stage of development for a human child between 22-24 weeks, which falls well under the limit of time in which a baby can be born premature, which is anything before 37 weeks. After the 4-week period was up, the lambs were taken from these bio bags and put on regular incubators and are continuing to be observed. The intent or endgame of these bio bags is to provide infants that are born prematurely with a more natural uterus feeling environment to continue their development in hopes to reduce the mortality rate in premature babies. While the doctors involved in this process state that there is still around 3 years before this treatment is ready for human testing, they are very enthusiastic about the benefits that can be brought about through this process and the opportunities that are there to improve the quality of life for the children and parents of babies who are born premature.

In my opinion, this scientific development provides a huge amount of benefits as far as medicine goes. The studies show that in the United States 10% of babies are born premature and 6% of those are born extremely premature which means they are born before the 28th week of pregnancy. With the developments made in this form of technology, there is loads of relief that can be provided to the families of premature children who are concerned with the options available to their children. Between the mechanical ventilation, medications, and the IV’s necessary to provide the fetus the same level of nutrients and fluids they would have acquired in their mother’s womb, their chances of making it out of their intensive care unit are scarce. There’s still a high chance of them yielding a bunch of other health conditions that can arise. There are some who may feel that this kind of technology can lead us into an era of cloning whereas if we’re able to sustain premature fetal life within these artificial wombs, what’s to stop us from going the full mile and creating life and raising it purely within these wombs, further dehumanizing people by not even allowing it necessary for natural procreation. While this may seem like a far stretch, there is still the looming fear of this becoming a reality simply because, with the way society is going, it’s becoming more and more obvious that a reduction of human interaction is exactly what’s necessary. Still, whether you see this as a step towards the new world order or just another medical advancement that will further improve our quality of life, I think we can all agree that we are making positive strides in this field and it is nothing short of remarkable, and damn near miraculous.

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