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Dialogue on Animal to Human Transplantation

21 April 2005

West Coast multi-site dialogue on Animal to Human Transplantation – first of its kind

Isolation is no barrier to participation for West Coasters who will have a unique opportunity in the first multi-site dialogue on xenotransplantation – animal-to-human transplantation - by Toi te Taiao: the Bioethics Council.

Using web and teleconference technology, the Council, in partnership with the local Tai Poutini Polytechnic and WestREAP, is holding facilitated dialogue events in Westport, Greymouth, Reefton, Hokitika and HariHari.

Brian MacKenzie, Director of Special Projects at Tai Poutini Polytechnic, initially thought of idea. “I saw the discussion document and realised I didn't know what I thought about the issues. How would I feel if I had a pig's liver transplanted into me? Would I feel differently if cells from an animal were used to treat a disease I had? I felt the main centre events were going to provide a more metropolitan view of what New Zealanders felt and I suggested we try a multi-site event here on the Coast to make sure that rural New Zealand's voice was heard. The Council agreed with enthusiasm.”

With the 'home' dialogue at the Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, each outpost will be linked so they will be able to both hear the lead facilitator and see the slide shows. Each site will also have its own facilitator and small-group discussions will take place. Feedback notes from each site will be shared by email and each group will also be able to hear any verbal feedback from each other.

Jill White, chair of the Bioethics Council, says such initiatives born at a community level are to be congratulated and encouraged.

“Dialogue is about giving New Zealanders the opportunity to build understanding, rather than persuade people to adopt a particular position. And for us it’s a case of, the more opportunity the better. We will be watching this exercise closely to see if it could be used in other areas.

While people can also participate through the online forum or submissions process, the dialogue events provide participants with a chance to get together, hear other views, and examine their own convictions. With the feedback providing valuable input into the recommendations the Council make to Government on xenotransplantation later this year – it is critical to get involvement from as many kiwis as possible.”

West Coast Multi-Site Dialogue Information

Dates: Monday 9 May from 1.00pm– 5.00pm; reconvening on Monday 16 May from 1.00pm – 5.00pm

Locations: Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, Hokitika, Harihari Public can register their interest to participate by emailing xeno@bioethics.org.nz Or by phoning Tai Poutini Polytechnic on 03 769 9400 or 0800 800 411. Visit www.bioethics.org.nz for further information and the xenotransplantation discussion document

ENDS

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