Chapter  7: Human Experimentation

Case:  Baby Fae



The case of Baby Fae raises important issues in the area of human experimentation. On October 26, 1984, Dr. Leonard Baily and the transplant team of Loma Linda University Medical Center in California removed the defective heart (hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side is much smaller than the right) of a five pound baby girl (known as Baby Fae). It was replaced with the heart of a baboon, a procedure known as xenotransplantation (cross-species transplantation). Twenty days later, on November 15th, the baby died of complications caused when her body began to reject the transplanted heart. Among the ethical issues raised by the Baby Fae case are the risk/benefit ratios for the human subject, experimentation and quality of the informed consent and surrogate decision making, exploration of other options, the introduction of expensive and untested technology, and the priorities and economics of medicine. Regarding other options, the doctors at Loma Linda never sought a human heart and the chances for a successful xenograft were very slim. [Source: Hubbard, LL. "The Baby Fae Case," Medicine & Law 6(5): 385-96, 1987.]

taken from:


A presentation by the institution at which the case occurred (Loma Linda University):

Ethical Concerns:



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