The world is constantly reaching amazing heights as time goes on, while science fiction becomes science fact. In no time at all, the streets will more than likely be full of self-driving vehicles, ensuring safety and relative order on the roads. While we all know that is definitely a good thing, there are things that some may see as minor drawbacks because of the new technology. As the roads become safer, there will be a somewhat significant drop in the availability of donor organs, as fewer people will die in car accidents. However true this may be, science could hold the answer for correcting the shortage of “parts.”

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It was found that 13.6 percent of people who died and became organ donors had been involved in a car wrecks. When self-driving cars become legal, the number of available donor organs will drop, but the flipside is that there will also be fewer car accidents that lead to injuries requiring organ donation.

Worldwide, nearly 1.3 million people die in car accidents, with an average of 3,287 deaths a day. As autonomous cars inevitably gain popularity around the world, those numbers will drop off significantly. People need organ transplants for a whole host of reasons, from infectious diseases, to accidents, and even birth defects, but autonomous driving should at least help reduce organ donation needs from one source.

The waiting lists for donor organs are pretty long and constantly growing. Currently, they’re around 120,000 people on any given day. As the mortality rate from auto accidents starts to drop, scientific researchers are working more heavily on ways to get patients the organs they need. From 3-D printing and advancements in bioengineering tech, the possibility of growing our own organs will become a reality and we can stop depending on donors.

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There are a lot of players in the game, racing to be the first at creating the standard for replacing defective organs, alternative to using a donor, or even developing a way for organs to regenerate themselves on their own without the need for a donor at all. Some researchers are trying to develop a way to help regrow different organ tissue within patients so there isn’t a need for a replacement. Stem cells or a graft of some other materials could be used to accomplish the regeneration of the diseased organs. They’re currently testing out techniques with more simple tissues, such as skin and bones.

Another approach to help reduce the shortage of donor organs is to create new organs altogether. This could be done through growing cells on organ-shaped molds, then transporting them to the person who would need the organ. It could all be done from scratch, or taken from animals who grow organs similar in shape and size to humans, like pigs for example. If growing them within an animal, scientists can then flush out the animal cells, leaving a nearly transparent scaffolding behind where they can then be filled with stem cells. More than likely, the stem cells would come from the patient’s own body, eliminating some of the likelihood of their immune system rejecting the new organ, as what can often happen in normal organ transplants.

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There have already been handcrafted scaffoldings for bladders, urethras, and reproductive organs that were seeded with the patient’s own stem cells to where they were successfully transplanted. Organs that are more complex, such as hearts or livers will be a ways off as far as being able to grow them. There is still so much that isn’t understood about how the body is formed, yet there have been bountiful amounts of leaps forward in being able to replicate fully functioning organs for the human body.

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It’s a bit dark, but a large percentage of what some rely on when needing an organ transplant is from someone who was in a fatal car accident. It’s an amazing thing that there are so many technological advancements made in relatively short periods of time. Science is going to be the key to making the future work in all aspect, especially in saving lives.