Freezing human tissues involves a process where organelles , cells , tissues and organs are frozen using compounds such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen liquid (1).These tissues are then stored and used later on for research , experimental purposes , diagnosis and curing of diseases. Although this might seem as a good positive concept to human kind , it has given rise to many ethical issues around the globe. Some people see it as going against humanity and our morals. Personally I think it’s a bad idea as many health and research facilities don’t comply with good and appropriate ethical practice(1).
Given the increasing interest and use of frozen tissues , it’s better to start considering ethical issues. One of the most common frozen tissues are the women reproductive organs (eggs). The procedure introduces issues such as sex inequality and professional norms as some people might see it as desperation and settling for immoral procedures. It also puts pressure on women who cannot conceive to freeze their eggs as they might feel unworthy or unwanted because they cannot fulfill their partners wish to have a child. Moreover “,this procedure might give false hope especially to older women over the age of 40 as chances of a successful pregnancy with frozen eggs decreases with age decline (2).
Additionally “,frozen eggs might cause conflict between partner’s when they divorce because the question of who is entitled to the frozen eggs rises. Secondly, if the frozen egg happens to be donated to an older person, the child born is affected because he/she is going to have older parents who might possibly die soon leaving them orphaned. This is true as an estimated 2% of orphans around the world are subject to losing their parents due to old age decline (3).Not only is it important to try minimize the number of older people who try to conceive using frozen eggs , but it also important to try and establish legal ethical issues concerning on how these tissues should be used and which age group has the right to receive frozen eggs for conceiving.
Frozen stem tissue are also common. These frozen stem tissues are usually used in diagnosis, research and treatment. The problem with stem cell freezing is that tissue from patients undergoing surgery are taken without their consent and used for experimental purposes. In some countries such as the UK there has been cases where by a child tissues were used without their consent which resulted in huge outrage in the community (4). This is also often done in nursing homes. It is unethical because the patients have the right to know what their tissues are going to be used for and how they’ll be disposed off if needed to. Moreover, it is not guaranteed that the stem cells will work if used for treatment on a patient ( another form of false hope). Sometimes human tissues are used to make commercial products which then results in unwanted practices(3).
The fact that they are no legal guidelines in some countries considering frozen tissues gives rise to commercial exploitation and refrains patients from self-governing of their own tissues. This raises another unethical issue due to the researchers gaining all the profits made from the tissues used for commercial purposes. Biomedical companies request frozen tissue from pathologist and doctors claiming that they will be used for research which most of the times turns out to be false(2). They actually go on to use these tissues for commercial products. Some researchers and companies feel that it is okay to get tissue from a dead person without any kind of consent from their families (1) and use them for any sort of procedure they desire. Which again is unethical as it conveys the message that a dead person body can be used anyhow.
On the contrary practice of human tissues should be stopped unless ethical issues are considered thoroughly and put first before anything else. Its fair as people would now be able to do whatever they want with their cells without the fear of being looked at as immoral and unethical within the society. Its also bring relief as patients are now going to know what their tissues are used for.