Open-heart surgery is a classic example of surgery that was successful on dogs and fatal to humans. The procedure depends on the heart-lung machine, which tested well on dogs and killed the first human patients. It was later modified according to human clinical observation and is now used successfully every day.
Don't surgeons train on animals before operating on humans?
Many surgeons have done trial procedures on lab animals, but many others have admitted that working on animals confuses the issue. Common sense suggests that orthopaedic surgery on a dog, for example, will differ greatly from that on a human. Applying animal data to the human body is always unscientific. Here are some examples:
- Once ophthalmologists practiced radial keratotomy (corrective eye surgery) on rabbits, they later tried it out on humans. After blinding many individuals, doctors modified the procedure for the human eye. Had they originated their research on the human eye through in vitro or autopsy research, these tragedies would have been prevented.
- Extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass procedures for inoperable carotid artery disease were tested and perfected on dogs and rabbits. Once approved for humans, neurosurgeons performed thousands of EC-ICs before they discovered the operation caused death and strokes more often than it resulted in recovery.
- Thousands of cats, dogs, pigs and primates have been sacrificed to find successful procedures for organ transplants. But despite the number of practice surgeries on animals, the first human operations fail.
By practicing procedures on non-humans, surgeons lead patients to believe their risk is minimal. Unfortunately, when a new method is introduced and tested on a human subject, projected results are no more than guesswork. By conducting the initial operations on human cadavers, doctors would reduce this risk and improve patient care.