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Modern Frankenstein?

The Science and Social Science of Organ Replacement


Susan Nava-Whitehead
Sciences and Education Department
Becker College
Kerri W. Augusto
Psychology and Mental Health Counseling
Becker College
Korryna A. Finkelstein
Becker College
Shianna Cruz
Becker College
Joel Clark
Becker College


This interdisciplinary case study uses the format of a progressive disclosure to explore certain advances in biotechnology and evaluate them within the framework of societal needs, concerns and pressures.  When faced with a heart valve transplant, a high school student and her mother must decide between multiple approaches, some current and others emergent. Highlighted in this case study are the topics of xenotransplantation, 3D bioprinting and the mature minor rule. The case includes a role-playing, public hearing activity that can be used to explore many aspects at the interface of technology and culture: religious rights, parental rights, public health care policy and safety, animal rights, economic issues of organ marketing, and psychological issues of body image.  This case study was originally designed for first year collegiate classes (introduction to biology, introduction to psychology) but is also applicable to AP high school. The flexible nature of the case also allows for expansion of several aspects for advanced classes across multiple disciplines.


  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of endocarditis.
  • Explore the various forms of organ transplantation with an emphasis on evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical vs. biological heart value transplantation.
  • Examine the criteria that should be used to define a young person as a mature minor in the context of medical decisions.
  • Describe the following as they relate to organ transplantation:
    • Biological: xenotransplantation, stereolithographic 3D bioprinting, stem cells, cloning, vascularization, totipotency, immunorejection, zoonotic disease.
    • Psychological: cognitive development, psychosocial development, identity development, moral development, bereavement, body integrity disorder.
    • Legal: mature minor, capacity, competence, statute, common law, competing interest.


organ replacement; xenotransplantation; 3D bioprinting; body integrity disorder, mature minor; bioethics;

Topical Areas

Ethics, Legal issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Interrupted, Public Hearing



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Biomedical Engineering  |   Psychology  |   Biotechnology  |   Public Health  |   Science (General)  |   Interdisciplinary Sciences  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Supplemental Materials

The podcasts below are optional materials that provide additional background for this case study.

  Human-Animal Hybrids Find Their Place in Medicine
  3D Printing Living Cells

Answer Key

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