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 five 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 child’s or adult’s development, so that organs are available on an emergency basis throughout the Subscriber’s lifespan.
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 person’s 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.)
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 organised 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 per cent.
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 health care 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 Centres are prominent in impoverished urban and rural sites throughout the country; in fact, there’s a clear ratio between a low number of banks and supermarkets and a high number of Donor Centres, 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 anaesthetised so quickly they have few memories of being approached. (An injectable anaesthesia product that works very well, Memzac, has been developed) 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 colours of their eyes’ irises no longer quite match. Still, Lab surveys have shown that unless it’s been a botched "pick-up" that left bad memory traces, most Sources can’t 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 book’s 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.
In recent years the Labs have also promoted family alliance programmes, 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. 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 labour 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 Organisations realised 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 realisation of what proactive "health maintenance" could actually meanu