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An increasingly unbridgeable gap exists between the supply and demand of transplantable organs. Human embryonic stem cell technology could solve the organ shortage problem by restoring diseased or damaged tissue across a range of common conditions. However, such technology faces several largely ignored immunological challenges in delivering cell lines to large populations. We address some of these challenges and argue in favor of encouraging contribution or intentional creation of embryos from which widely immunocompatible stem cell lines could be derived. Further, we argue that current immunological constraints in tissue transplantation demand the creation of a global stem cell bank, which may hold particular promise for minority populations and other sub-groups currently marginalized from organ procurement and allocation systems. Finally, we conclude by offering a number of practical and ethically oriented recommendations for constructing a human embryonic stem cell bank that we hope will help solve the ongoing organ shortage problem.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Bioeth

Publication Date





37 - 44


Bioethical Issues, Cloning, Organism, Embryonic Stem Cells, Epitopes, Fertilization in Vitro, Global Health, Haplotypes, Health Care Costs, Histocompatibility, Histocompatibility Antigens, Humans, Motivation, Nuclear Transfer Techniques, Organ Transplantation, Prejudice, Tissue Banks, Tissue Donors, Tissue and Organ Procurement, Transplantation Immunology, United Kingdom