For the last couple of decades, a device popularly known as an “artificial placenta” has been in development. Last time I checked, LG (maker of cheapo cellular telephones) was a part of the development, and Bayer (the aspirin company) was also involved. There are other players, and those are just the two I remember.
It turns out that the placenta is a very complicated organ, and given its nature, spontaneously appearing with a fetus, and turning quickly into a piece of meat after birth, it is very difficult to study. All logistical problems aside, technical solutions are continuing to develop.
In the Spring of 2017, a lamb fetus was brought to maturity in such an artificial placenta.
Not being a biologist or physician, I don’t pretend to know all the finer details, but the procedure is broken down into simple terms in a recent paper. There are a few veins and arteries attaching the fetus to the placenta, and a rapid transfer to a filtration and oxygenation system is the basic idea.
Time-dated pregnant ewes were used at gestational ages of 104 to 135 days (term is ∼145 days). Animals were treated according to approved protocols by the institutional animal care and use committee of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute.
Ewes were anaesthetized with 15 mg kg−1 of intramuscular ketamine, with maintenance of general anaesthesia with inhaled isoflurane (2–4% in O2) and propofol (0.2–1.0 mg kg−1 min−1). Intraoperative haemodynamic monitoring included pulse oximetry, with a constant infusion of isotonic saline administered via a central venous line placed in a jugular vein to maintain maternal fluid balance. A lower midline laparotomy was created to expose the uterus, with a small hysterotomy performed to expose the fetal sheep head and neck (CA/JV) or umbilical cord (UA/UV). Experimental lambs undergoing cannulation of the neck vessels (CA/JV and CA/UV) underwent creation of a small right neck incision to expose the jugular vein and/or carotid artery. Fetuses received one intramuscular dose of buprenorphine (0.005 mg kg−1). After determination of the maximal cannula size accommodated by each vessel, ECMO cannulae were placed (8–12 Fr, Medtronic, Minneapolis, MN, USA), with stabilizing sutures placed along the external length of cannulae at the neck. Cannulas were customized with a silicone sleeve over the external portion of the cannulas to permit increased tension of the stabilizing sutures in CA/JV and CA/UV experiments. Experimental lambs undergoing cannulation of the umbilical vessels were positioned to expose the umbilical cord, with connective tissue sharply dissected to expose the umbilical arteries and veins. Umbilical cannulae were placed in one umbilical vein (CA/UV) as well as two umbilical arteries (UA/UV) (12 Fr, Medtronic, or modified 8–12 Fr custom-made cannulas), with stabilizing sutures placed at the insertion sites.
The article is interesting, and despite its overly-technical language, it’s already beginning to spin the benefits to wimminz themselves. The same wimminz who have run roughshod over our culture will likely be the first to embrace their own redundancy, by adopting this technology to help their wrinkly, 50-year old selves conceive the baby they were too stupid to have before graduate school.
One of the few assets women objectively have is the ability to conceive and bear children. This is about to be taken away from them… forever. How attractive do these shrieking feminists think they’ll be, when men have a functional alternative?
Given that we are interested in ethics, we should be somewhat concerned with the future ramifications of these developments. Human beings have always come to maturity with the help of a human mother. Some of our mothers are better than others, but our existence is predicated upon theirs. At some point in the future, this will change. We will have two populations: one grown in garbage bags, and the heirloom variety, carried to term in the traditional fashion. It’s easy to project a class-based divide between the two, and I honestly don’t know who will be considered the elite, in this scenario. The technical human will be born out of a labor-intensive, financially expensive procedure, and he’ll probably be the genetic offspring of wealthy individuals. These will likely be Asperger type incels who want a baby without a wimminz, and elderly feminist career girls who froze their eggs.
Consequences be damned, the artificial placenta appears to be the manifestation of the Heideggerian “saving power” of technology, appearing to shake shit up for we, who blindly stumble into the future, all unconcerned.