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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on Organ Transplants

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Pig organ transplants within 5 years


Date: Sep 11, 2005

Level: Harder (Try the easier lesson.)

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THE ARTICLE

Scientists have confirmed that the transplantation of organs from animals to humans could become a reality within five years. The process, xenotransplantation, is cited by many as being the remedy for an acute shortage of organs and organ donors. It is estimated there are five times more people in need of organs than there are available kidneys, hearts and lungs. Dr. Anthony Warrens, from London’s Imperial College said in a press release*: “Although the idea of xenotransplantation is far from new, it is only in recent years that many of the potential immunological problems, such as transplant rejection, have been solved, meaning the process of transplanting organs from one species into another, could soon be a reality.”

Pigs will be the most likely provider of organs. Their size and physiology are very similar to humans, which increases the likelihood of organ compatibility. However, many immunological hurdles have yet to be overcome. There are still unknown dangers of animal viruses crossing over and infecting humans. Dr. Warrens is positive, saying: “Although we can’t say there is absolutely no danger of cross infection, I believe that in the future we will be able to deal with many of the problems, reducing any potential risk.” Dr. Warren also suggested this was ethically sound, as there is “widespread acceptance that it is regarded as ethically proper to rear and then kill large numbers of pigs for food.”

* http://www.imperial.ac.uk/P6812.htm

WARM-UPS

1. DONATIONS: Do you want your organs to be reused after you die? Talk with your partner(s) about whether you would consider any of the following:

  • Organ donation for transplants
  • Whole body donation for medical research
  • Whole body donation to medical schools for medical students
  • Whole body donation to artists to be transformed into works of art

2. ANIMAL PARTS: In pairs / groups, decide which of the following are ethically acceptable. Which should humans never do? Which are OK for humans to do if they choose to?

  • Eat meat from animals
  • Use medicine produced from animals
  • Have a transplanted pig heart
  • Have a blood transfusion from modified animal blood
  • Sheep eye transplants
  • Skin grafts from animals

3. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

Scientists / transplants / pig organs / organ donors / kidneys / hearts / lungs / dangers / viruses / ethics of animal organ transplants / pigs for food

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

4. PIGS: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with pigs. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

5. OPINIONS: How far do you agree with these opinions on pig organ transplants? Talk about them with your partner(s).

  1. If pig organs save lives, it’s a good thing.
  2. The idea of pig organ transplants is worse than the idea of cloning.
  3. We cannot change who we are. We will become half-human, half-pig.
  4. It’s too dangerous. No one knows what kind of viruses will spread.
  5. God created man in his own image, not a pig’s.
  6. This is a wonderfully exciting development in medical research.
  7. I feel sorry for pigs. More will die now.
  8. It is unethical to use animals in this way.

 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

Pig organs could be transplanted into humans within five years.

T / F

b.

Organ transplantation from animals is called xenotransplantation.

T / F

c.

There is not yet a shortage of human organs.

T / F

d.

The idea of xenotransplantation is very new and cutting edge.

T / F

e.

Pigs will be used because their blood is very similar to human blood.

T / F

f.

There is a zero chance of pig viruses crossing over to humans.

T / F

g.

A scientist is confident all immunological problems will be ironed out.

T / F

h.

The scientist said having a pig organ is the same as eating pigs.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

confirmed

severe

b.

cited

morally

c.

remedy

breed

d.

acute

solution

e.

solved

valid

f.

compatibility

vouched

g.

hurdles

obstacles

h.

ethically

ironed out

i.

sound

quoted

j.

rear

fit

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

could become a reality

of organs and organ donors

b.

cited by many

of cross infection

c.

an acute shortage

are very similar to humans

d.

the idea of xenotransplantation

as being the remedy

e.

potential

over and infecting humans

f.

Their size and physiology

immunological problems

g.

increases the likelihood

sound

h.

animal viruses crossing

within five years

i.

there is absolutely no danger

is far from new

j.

suggested this was ethically

of organ compatibility

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words in the column on the right into the gaps in the text.

Pig organ transplants within 5 years

Scientists have _______ that the transplantation of organs from animals to humans could become a _______ within five years. The process, xenotransplantation, is _______ by many as being the remedy for an _______ shortage of organs and organ donors. It is estimated there are five times more people in need of organs than there are _______ kidneys, hearts and lungs. Dr. Anthony Warrens, from London’s Imperial College said in a press release: “Although the idea of xenotransplantation is _______ from new, it is only in recent years that many of the potential immunological problems, such as transplant rejection, have been _______, meaning the process of transplanting organs from one _______ into another, could soon be a reality.”

 

 

available
solved
reality
far
acute
confirmed
species
cited

Pigs will be the most likely _______ of organs. Their size and _______ are very similar to humans, which increases the likelihood of organ compatibility. However, many immunological _______ have yet to be overcome. There are still unknown dangers of animal viruses crossing over and _______ humans. Dr. Warrens is positive, saying: “Although we can’t say there is absolutely no danger of _______ infection, I believe that in the future we will be able to deal with many of the problems, reducing any potential _______.” Dr. Warren also suggested this was ethically _______, as there is “widespread acceptance that it is regarded as ethically proper to _______ and then kill large numbers of pigs for food.”

 

 

sound
cross
physiology
risk
provider
infecting
rear
hurdles


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘pig’ and ‘organ’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the gap fill. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “XENOTRANSPLANTATION” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about pig organs and transplants into humans.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • confirmed
  • remedy
  • in need
  • far from new
  • potential
  • species
  • physiology
  • hurdles
  • viruses
  • absolutely
  • deal
  • rear

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. What were your initial thoughts on this headline?
  2. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  3. What do you think about xenotransplantation?
  4. Would you accept a pig heart if it was the only way to keep you alive?
  5. What problems can you see with xenotransplantation?
  6. What other ways are there to deal with organ shortages?
  7. Would you feel you were not fully human if you had a pig heart?
  8. Would you feel strange talking to someone who had a pig heart?
  9. Do you think new diseases might spread to humans from pigs?
  10. What other animals might be used for xenotransplantation?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Which is more unacceptable for you, pig organ transplants or cloning?
  4. Do you think human genes will change if people have animal organs?
  5. Do you think the ethics of eating pigs and transplanting their organs are the same?
  6. Should medical decisions like this be voted on in a referendum?
  7. What would happen to pig heart recipients if they suddenly developed previously unknown and contagious diseases?
  8. What do you think about sheep eye transplants?
  9. Are their religious concerns regarding xenotransplantation?
  10. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What question would you like to ask about this topic?
  2. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  3. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  4. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  5. What did you like talking about?
  6. Do you want to know how anyone else answered the questions?
  7. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

ROLE PLAY: This role play is to discuss whether or not xenotransplantation should become an accepted part of medical practice. Team up with classmates who have been assigned the same role as you. Develop your roles and discuss ideas and “strategies” before the role play begins.

Introduce yourself to the other role players.
 

Role A – Scientist A

You are horrified at the thought of xenotransplantation. You think all kinds of new and dangerous diseases will develop. Humans will be changed forever. The human species will eventually become weaker and be more prone to unknown diseases. It is far too risky to transplant pig organs.

THINK OF MORE REASONS AGAINST XENOTRANSPLANTATION.

Role B – Scientist B

You think xenotransplantation is the greatest medical development in a century. It will help save millions of lives, help blind people see and overcome many medical problems. Science can prevent diseases from crossing species. Humans will always be human.

THINK OF MORE REASONS FOR XENOTRANSPLANTATION.

Role C – Patient

You have a serious heart problem. If you do not have a heart transplant in the next six months, you will die. You are prepared to test a pig heart. It may mean you have a longer life and possibly help millions of others who are on organ donation waiting lists.

THINK OF MORE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TRY A PIG HEART.

Role D – Concerned citizen

You are very worried about organs from animals being transplanted into humans. You think the human species will change, perhaps become weaker and then become extinct. You think it is ridiculous to take such a risk. You believe God did not intend us to be half human.

THINK OF MORE REASONS AGAINST XENOTRANSPLANTATION.

Change roles and repeat the role play. Comment in groups about the differences between the two role plays.

In pairs / groups, discuss whether you really believe in what you said while you were in your roles.

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Pig organ transplants within 5 years

Scientists have _________ that the transplantation of organs from animals to humans could become a _________ within five years. The process, xenotransplantation, is cited by many as being the _________ for an acute shortage of organs and organ donors. It is estimated there are five times more people in need of organs than there are _________ kidneys, hearts and lungs. Dr. Anthony Warrens, from London’s Imperial College said in a press release: “Although the idea of xenotransplantation is ____ _____ ____, it is only in recent years that many of the potential immunological problems, such as transplant __________, have been solved, meaning the process of transplanting organs from one __________ into another, could soon be a reality.”

Pigs will be the most likely __________ of organs. Their size and physiology are very similar to humans, which increases the __________ of organ compatibility. However, many immunological hurdles have yet to be __________. There are still unknown dangers of animal __________ crossing over and infecting humans. Dr. Warrens is positive, saying: “Although we can’t say there is absolutely no danger of cross infection, I believe that in the future we will be able __ _____ _____ many of the problems, reducing any potential risk.” Dr. Warren also suggested this was ethically _______, as there is “widespread acceptance that it is regarded as ethically proper to _____ and then kill large numbers of pigs for food.”

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on xenotransplantation. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson.

3. PROS AND CONS: Make a poster showing the pros and cons of transplanting animal organs into humans. Show your posters to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all include similar things? Talk about the pros and cons.

4. ARTICLE: Write a newspaper report about a major health alert occurring with a xenotransplantation patient. Read your article to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar stories?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. T

b. T

c. F

d. F

e. F

f. F

g. T

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

confirmed

vouched

b.

cited

quoted

c.

remedy

solution

d.

acute

severe

e.

solved

ironed out

f.

compatibility

fit

g.

hurdles

obstacles

h.

ethically

morally

i.

sound

valid

j.

rear

breed

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

could become a reality

within five years

b.

cited by many

as being the remedy

c.

an acute shortage

of organs and organ donors

d.

the idea of xenotransplantation

is far from new

e.

potential

immunological problems

f.

Their size and physiology

are very similar to humans

g.

increases the likelihood

of organ compatibility

h.

animal viruses crossing

over and infecting humans

i.

there is absolutely no danger

of cross infection

j.

suggested this was ethically

sound

GAP FILL:

Pig organ transplants within 5 years

Scientists have confirmed that the transplantation of organs from animals to humans could become a reality within five years. The process, xenotransplantation, is cited by many as being the remedy for an acute shortage of organs and organ donors. It is estimated there are five times more people in need of organs than there are available kidneys, hearts and lungs. Dr. Anthony Warrens, from London’s Imperial College said in a press release: “Although the idea of xenotransplantation is far from new, it is only in recent years that many of the potential immunological problems, such as transplant rejection, have been solved, meaning the process of transplanting organs from one species into another, could soon be a reality.”

Pigs will be the most likely provider of organs. Their size and physiology are very similar to humans, which increases the likelihood of organ compatibility. However, many immunological hurdles have yet to be overcome. There are still unknown dangers of animal viruses crossing over and infecting humans. Dr. Warrens is positive, saying: “Although we can’t say there is absolutely no danger of cross infection, I believe that in the future we will be able to deal with many of the problems, reducing any potential risk.” Dr. Warren also suggested this was ethically sound, as there is “widespread acceptance that it is regarded as ethically proper to rear and then kill large numbers of pigs for food.”

 

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Copyright © 2005 by Sean Banville