Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Face Transplant: Yes, it's Okay

I wrote about Charla Nash's new face earlier today, in another blog:
Charla is the woman who lost her face and hands when a friend's pet chimpanzee attacked her. That was in February, 2009.

Charla's new face is from an anonymous donor, and appears to be in working order. She now has a palate and teeth, so chewing food will be possible. Nerves are growing into place, and the news says she'll be able to express emotions. Specifically, she'll be able to smile.

The bad news is that the new hands didn't last. Charla got pneumonia after the hands were attached, which resulted in too-low blood circulation in the hands. Also, the news didn't mention her new face's eyes. My guess is that restoring sight was a little beyond what could be done.


I remember the first time a severed limb was reattached, back in 1962. (see In the news, below) We've come a long way.

Isn't Medical Technology Unspiritual or Something?

I've run into folks who seem to think that God is against science and technology - by which they meant whatever was developed since their youth that they either don't like, or don't understand.

Come to think of it, I haven't run into that assumption recently: maybe it's a cultural quirk that's on its way out.

I'm not thinking of Amish, or any other group whose members have decided to opt out of the rat race. The folks I know of in that set of subcultures aren't so much against technology, as they are for simplicity. There's a difference, and hats off to them.

Me? I like technology. And science.

'Because I Can:' Not a Good Reason

I'm also aware that "because I can" isn't a valid reason for doing something. Despite what some technophobes and technophiles seem to believe, science and technology aren't morality-free zones.

So, why write about a face transplant in a "religious" blog? I'm a practicing Catholic.

When I get the flu, I don't try to cast out the Demon Influenza. I rest, drink plenty of fluids - including chicken soup - and stay out of cold breezes. I started getting those seasonal flu shots a few years ago. And missed last year's: a mistake I paid for, and don't intend to make again.

As far as I can tell, the Catholic Church is just fine with science and technology. Also horses, fire, and string. It's just that we're also expected to remember that none of us are "beyond good and evil." I've gone over that before. (January 11, 2011) Fairly often.

Bottom line, about organ - or face - transplants? As far as I can tell, the Catholic Church is fine with that. Provided some conditions are met.1 We're not, for example, allowed to kill somebody and break that person down for parts. Even if we want to help somebody we like.

Related posts:
In the news:

1Organ transplants are okay, provided some conditions are met:
"Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorous act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2296)
As far as I can tell, the Catholic Church thinks that scientific research is okay, and that it's a good idea to keep folks healthy. Or, if they're sick or injured, help them regain their health. What the Catholic Church doesn't assume is that science and medicine are 'no holds barred' zones, where moral and ethical considerations don't count. I've put together a short and definitely not comprehensive list of references:
  • Abortion, 2270-2275
  • Euthanasia, 2276-2279
  • Respect for health, 2288-2291
  • Respect for the person and scientific research, 2292-2296
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church) (not an exhaustive list)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.