Headless Clones and HMOs:
A Modest Proposal on the Future of
|In the future, for those who can afford it, Labs will grow clones that can be used to supply duplicate organs to replace body parts for people as they age, or in case of emergencies. Each clone will be a genetic match to an individual so they can be used in transplants without being attacked by that persons immune system. Those who contract with the Clone Labs to have genetic duplicates of their organs on call are known as Prime Subscribers. With recent advancements in genetic engineering, this method for growing human organs using human clones has proved more efficient than using other animal species as organ sources, an approach that was tried in the 1990s.
The Prime Subscribers clones are to be grown as headless embryos, without a brain or a central nervous system, so that they are not legally human and will never be able to live outside of the Lab. The cloned embryos develop all the other body parts, including a heart and circulatory system and lungs and digestive systems. (Economy model embryos have also been developed that do not have a digestive system and are slightly easier to grow in the Lab; nutrients are injected directly into the bloodstream and wastes drawn out of the blood by machine. These models of course provide fewer organs for possible use.)
Human embryos become suitable sources for adult organs in about 15 years. When these embryo cloning techniques were first developed in Britain in the late 1990s, the embryos had to be destroyed after 5 days or be legally classed as living agricultural animals. But as the technology advanced and the potential for humans became clear, laws were revised. Now, clones for the Prime Subscribers are grown to match each stage of a childs or adults development, so that organs are available on an emergency basis throughout the Subscribers lifespan. Since the clones body parts do age at the normal rate, to ensure youth and freshness in the body parts several clones for each Prime Subscriber will be kept in the Lab at a time: prime clones ready to use as needed, clones about to enter the prime stage to replace others that are retired, plus new clones that are just starting and will need more than a decade to mature.
Such a level of service, of course, can be afforded only by a few. Others, known as Secondary Subscribers, can afford only to rely on Labs that merely store human organs culled from the general population and organized by blood type and other factors so that the best approximate genetic fit may be found. With recent advances in immune-system therapy, however, the success rate of these transplants has greatly increased and is now close to 80%.
How do the Labs get such a supply of organs for the Secondary Subscribers? By culling them from a population that can afford neither of these services---an underclass beneath the healthcare system that is willing to be paid money to donate a kidney, a lung, a good working knee or eye (replaced by a cut-rate duplicate). Organ Donor Centers are prominent in impoverished urban and rural sites throughout the country; in fact, theres a clear ratio between a low number of banks and supermarkets and a high number of Donor Centers, Blood Banks, and Check-Cashing Services.
Sometimes the demand for organs exceeds the supply. Then the Labs hire Procurement Specialists, known on the street as Snatchers, to gather new specimens. These involuntary donors, or Sources, can usually be anaesthetized so quickly they have few memories of being approached. (An injectable anaesthesia product that works very well, Memzac, has been developed by GlaxoPfizAllegraWelcomm Corporation.) And thanks to the latest anti-scarring surgery techniques, most Sources can be returned to the streets with little or no awareness that they are missing a kidney or lung or a few leg tendons. Waking up on a park bench or elsewhere with little memory of how they got there, they may notice they are shorter of breath than they used to be or that a joint suddenly feels more arthritic; a glance in the mirror may reveal that the colors of their eyes irises no longer quite match. Still, Lab surveys have shown that unless its been a botched pick-up that left bad memory traces, most Sources cant detect what happened. They attribute it to sleeping poorly the night before, or to old age, poor memory, or all of the above.
An early chronicle of some of these new developments in Organ Harvesting appeared not in the Web news media services but in an old-fashioned printed book, a novel, and one that also purported to unveil ancient prophesies written on parchment: Leslie Marmon Silko, The Almanac of the Dead (1991). The books anger and its nostalgic use of outdated media were not looked upon kindly by book reviewers, fortunately, and Silko's prophesies were forgotten by all but a few before the new millennium and the arrival of real state-of-the-snatching-art techniques to meet the demands of those with money to buy new (or rather, pre-owned) organs.
Most difficult to supply, of course, are organs that normally grow singly, such as the heart. Such items are of premium interest for the Labs, because they are hardest to get in good and diverse supply and when sold fetch huge profits for the companies that own the Labs. Specially trained Snatch teams descend on what are called injury accidents to find donors, or pick up their Sources from city streets and rural back roads.
How to dispose of the bodies after the needed organs are culled remains a vexing environmental problem. Recent progress in smokestack filter research provides much cause for optimism, however; test crematoriums have been installed by the Labs in many industrial and service zones across the country---disguised, of course, as hospitals or factories---and the clean-burn technology installed in their smokestacks shows great promise. Contracts have already been signed to triple the number of these facilities across the country.
|In recent years the Labs have also promoted Family Alliance programs, where poor families will be paid to sire and grow a child or two who at the proper age can then be bought by the Labs. The majority of these donors are bought when they are physically mature, but others are sold earlier to supply the need for baby and child organs. The prices for these organ-donor-sites have not been revealed to the public.
Increasingly, the Labs are also hired not just by individuals but by groups and governments, for one area of future market growth for the Labs is in the area of population control. It has long been clear that certain groups are multiplying too fast and too easily, while other groups who believe they have more desirable genetic information banks seem nevertheless to have a lower rate of reproduction. The Labs work diligently to ensure that all those in the Primary Source Groups who so desire may have large numbers of children, some raised under contract by members of the Secondary and Tertiary Source Groups. The Labs have also found it not difficult to disrupt the reproductive systems of a certain percentage of those in the less desirable Source groups when regular medical care (such as common cold and flu shots) is administered. This service is also usually performed on Sources before they are returned to the streets. The proper target percentages for the various Groups are a matter of frequent debate, however, for the Secondary and Tertiary Source Groups are important sources of labor (including Primary Child Care) as well as body parts, so their numbers cannot be allowed to dwindle below a certain level.
Since the Labs technology is to some extent shared within the world-wide population of genetic scientists, individual Labs have arisen in different countries and regions of the world with conflicting visions of how the future human population should grow and what will be the optimum genetic and racial mix. Some of the Labs, especially in Western countries, where gene tech industries were first developed, have proprietary technology that makes them more efficient than their non-Western competitors. But this technology gap is rapidly closing. Each region of the world, however, has had little difficulty designating certain groups within their population to be Secondary and Tertiary Donor and Labor Groups.
In 1997, long ago, the biological knowledge and laboratory skills to make such Labs cost-effective was mostly in place. What was lacking was the social and economic coordination to arrange such needed operations on a large scale with the necessary legal protection. That changed in the early 2000s, when Health Maintenance Organizations realized that such Labs would be a steady source for profits to supplement their control of hospital and retirement home networks. Indeed, with the Labs operating at full capacity the HMOs finally achieved a full realization of what proactive health maintenance could actually mean.
It was the HMO industry that, against the odds, heroically put in place the multi-tiered healthcare system we know today, with distinct levels of service for full-paying, low-paying, and indigent customer-patients. And it was this same industry that realized how to make the huge indigent customer base work for the system, rather than against it: instead of being a drain on resources, due to their demands for free medical care, the poor have now been converted to a System asset: it is this group that supplies the bulk of implant organ stock. Although clone-source organs are most highly prized, only a relatively small percentage of the population (the top tier) can afford them, and so it is crucial to maximize efficiency in organ procurement for the middle sector, by relying on the natural resources of the low-tier Sources.
In short, the HMO industry not just reformed the healthcare system, they built a modern pyramid, where a vast base of organ donors stably and sublimely supports the upper levels. Our organ farming labs and the HMO system that invented them may be our civilization's most distinctive monument.
When this tiered system of health maintenance care was first fully realized early in the first decade of the twenty-first century, it was so successful, that is profitable, that politicians and systems-designers proposed that it be adopted as the model for the reform of our system of education. Our modest proposal here is to design a three-tiered educational system that will custom-fit educational resources to each of the three primary economic groups, upper- , middle- , and under-class. Such an arrangement will optimize the connection between class and class---that is, between economic level and classroom presence. It is best to promote such arrangements as the health-care revolution was promoted, as liberating the freedom of choice for all: in education, as in healthcare, everyone should demand the inalienable right to get what they can afford to pay for.
The only problem with retrofitting the educational system to the three-tiered HMO model: how can it be designed so that the lowest tier contributes to the health of the system as a whole, rather than acting as a resource drain on it? Solving this problem will be a primary challenge for educational planners as they look forward to the next decade in cost-benefit innovations in their field.
A Genealogical Bibliography:
Ancient Articles on Animal/Human Organ Farming Techniques, from the 1990s:
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