Thursday, July 2, 2009

Episode 30 NZ Pig Transplants

Episode 30

New Zealand Pig Transplants

Hello and welcome to Jay Wont darts podcast, this is episode 30, about Living Cells Technology, testing on apparently Disease Free pigs near Invercargill, where I live.

My intro was from a 60 minutes episode, talking about people who eat less willingly, and appear to live longer.

A little history about the Auckland Island pigs.

The Auckland Islands are some sub Antarctic islands, Auckland Island is the main island from the group of Auckland Islands. The Auckland Islands are about 500 kilometres south of Invercargill, where I live.

The islands are quite beautiful looking, its mostly shrubs and rock from what I can see on wikipedia, but I think it has a lot of forest too.

The pigs were released onto Auckland Island in 1807, as a source of food for whalers and shipwreck survivors, they were like living emergency rations for any people who needed food. Pretty dark huh? Living in paradise, all alone, just in case some people crash a boat into a rock, they can swim to your island and eat you. For over a hundred years, the pigs were left alone. They basically became a separate breed of pigs, now called the Auckland Island pig. In more recent times, the pigs were judged as an introduced species, they didnt belong on Auckland Island, and they had been eating too many of the plants, and had supposedly been squashing birds eggs, I dont see how this is a big problem to humanity, but DOC and other wildlife groups in New Zealand did.

12th of January, 1999, a party of volunteers left from Bluff, a port town very close to Invercargill. They returned back on the 23rd, with seventeen pigs, including some pregnant sows. The pigs had been lower in number than expected, and were hard to find, forest covered the area they were in, the only way to find them was to use trained dogs to find and hold the pigs. The hunters would then tie their legs and jaws shut, and the pigs were carried back to the base camp where they were put into cages. The site I'm reading from,, in the source notes, says that injuries happened, (not always to the pigs!). So, 17 pigs were rescued, and according to the 3news page, the rest were killed by DOC, for being an introduced species, they had to die according to our Department of Conservation. Department of Culling sounds more accurate to me.

The 17 pigs who were "rescued from auckland islands" as the media have reported, were moved to Invercargill. Rescued? from paradise? Taken to a secret location near Invercargill?

It was found the Auckland Island pig is basically disease free, The Southland Times newspaper here often calls them "disease free pigs". They have been biocertified, acceptable for animal to human transplants.

There is now a company setting up Auckland Island pig farms around Invercargill, theres one currently one building that has just opened, the location is kept secret I believe. The name of the company is Living Cell Technologies, they will handle breeding the pigs and extracting cells from the pigs, to be used in people.

I should mention now, anything I say from now on is pretty much just my opinion, what I think based on what I've found from other sources. I asked for information from Living cell Technologies, and also from Mayor of Invercargill Tim Shadbolt, because I honestly dont know what is going to happen inside the Pig Farms.

Tim Shadbolt, our Mayor, is a big supporter of the pigs being bred, the amount of money being made in Southland is mentioned as being billions of dollars. I wish Living Cell or Mayor Shadbolt had taken up my offer to appear on this episode of my podcast, because I honestly want to know whats going to happen, instead you just get to hear me coming up with crazy ideas. Living Cell didnt get back to me, but I got a text reply from the Mayors office.

Living Cell is going to use liver cells from the pigs, for people with Diabetes Type One, pig cells will be injected into people and they will help the person's liver produce Insulin. In the media, the local Southland Times newspaper, the story about the pigs is only mentioned positively, I seem to be the only person in Invercargill against the use of these animals. The facilities are mentioned as costing millions of dollars to build, and that the pigs will be well treated, and the paper calls them "pig palaces". I've seen a photo of the Mayor inside where the pigs will live, it looked like concrete prison cells, probably only a metre or two across, slabs of solid concrete from what I saw in the photo, that was from when the building was being constructed, I dont know what it will be like inside with the pigs now. I'll now mention some newspaper articles

Ok, sure thing Alex, I'll use you again, just for short things though.. I'll read these news stories myself with a 3 news clip in between.

From The Southland Times,

Living Cell Technologies has received approval to begin clinical trials involving the transplanting of cells from Auckland Island pigs, which are housed in Southland, into eight people with type-1 diabetes.

The pigs are housed at Awarua, near Invercargill, in a $2.5 million hi-tech breeding unit and the company has plans to build up to 80 more units in Southland within 10 years. Each will house up to 500 sows. (by the way, thats sow as in pig, not as in DNA, molecule cells)

Living Cell Technologies founding director David Collinson said the project could inject $1.9 billion into the region's economy in that time and create thousands of jobs.

While clinical trials will be carried out at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, Mr Collinson said the breeding and cell harvesting in Southland would employ at least 50 people per unit.

The approval, confirmed by Health Minister Tony Ryall yesterday, brings the company closer to the end of its long bureaucratic battle to start trials in New Zealand.

It has been waiting for more than two years, during which time the company threatened to take its technology overseas.

Speaking from Melbourne yesterday, Living Cell Technologies' chief operating officer Paul Tan said the approval was great news.

"Essentially the minister will allow us to do the trials under revised conditions.

"And these revised conditions we totally accept."

They included conducting trials only on severe diabetics and providing patients with more information on what was required of them, as requested by the minister, Mr Tan said.

The revised protocol for the clinical trial would then need to go before the Government's ethics committee before final signoff.

Mr Tan was confident the committee would not have any issues.

"We don't see that as a problem."

Mr Collinson expected the committee to make its decision within a month.

Trials would start two months from the time patients had been selected.

Mr Collinson congratulated Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt for his role.

Mr Shadbolt saved the pigs a decade ago, housing and feeding them out of his own mayoral fund in the hope uses would be found for them.

Last night he said the preliminary approval was great news for the region.

It opened up huge opportunities, including the potential to develop courses at the Southern Institute of Technology to train the scientists and vets that would be needed to staff the pig-breeding units, Mr Shadbolt said.

Diabetes is caused by having too much sugar in the blood because the pancreas cannot make enough insulin.

The pancreas contains clusters of cells, known as islets, that produce hormones like insulin. People with "brittle" diabetes

frequently experience large swings in blood-sugar levels.

The bid for New Zealand approval was boosted in 2007 after researchers discovered pig cells injected into Matamata man Michael Helyer in 1996 were still producing insulin.
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The idea was developed by New Zealander Bob Elliott, who had actually implanted cells in six Aucklanders more than a decade ago, before being shut down by health officials who were concerned about the potential for pig retroviruses to move into the human population.

The new trials will be run by John Baker, clinical director at Middlemore, with four of the patients receiving a dose of 10,000 islet cells followed by four patients who will each have a higher dose of 15,000 implanted.

Diabetes New Zealand estimates 15,000 Kiwis have type-1 diabetes, including 3500 children and teenagers.

Ok, so
a possible 81 pig farms, the one currently built plus another possible 80, X 500 pigs maximum per farm= 40,500 right, 40,500 pigs? Thats an amazingly large number , basically the population of Invercargill , but sad pigs stuck in concrete prison cells. I find the number hard to believe, I wanted it to be confirmed, but as I mentioned Living Cell Technologies didnt reply to my email.

Ok, this clip is from 3 News,

<3 news coverage clip>

A comment left on that 3 News story page, mentions how the pigs feel about how they are treated, in many of these news stories, they make the animals out to be friendly, but we are sure not treating them like friends, taking them from a basically free island, to putting them in concrete prison type cells, for their liver cells to be harvested from female pigs, also called sows! The pigs wouldnt consider the diabetes patients friends, Im pretty sure of that, they must hate living in those awful concrete places.

Back to a Southland Times story.

Secret Pig Palace Officially Opened.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt has officially opened the first of Southland's "Pig Palaces".

In a secret ceremony at the high-tech disease-free building that will house 50 Auckland Island pigs near Invercargill yesterday, Mr Shadbolt, council officials, the builder, architect and Living Cell Technologies gathered for the opening of the $2.5 million unit.

Chief operating officer Paul Tan, founding director David Collinson and founding and medical director Bob Elliot said the opening was a major milestone for the company.

After more than two years of battling political red tape, Health Minister Tony Ryall last week granted the company approval to start clinical trials transplanting Auckland Island pig islet cells into eight severe type 1 diabetics.

They had hundreds of people willing to take part in the trials but eligible patients had to meet strict conditions imposed by the minister.

The conditions extended to the Invercargill pig breeding unit built by Invercargill builders Cunningham Construction and designed by Invercargill architect David Mollinson.

The company's growing herd of Auckland Island pigs were yet to move into their new home and were based at a secret location in Invercargill. The company eventually plans to build up to 80 units in Southland, provided the clinical trials are successful.

Mr Collinson has estimated the industry could be worth possibly billions to the Southland economy.

Dr Tan and Professor Elliot said the pigs would move into the first unit once it had been fumigated and all the pigs re-tested for diseases.

OK, re reading that, I see that my math was off, the first story mentioned the buildings having up to 500 pigs per unit, and there could be another 80 built after this first one. This first one will only have 50 Auckland Island pigs its saying in this story, not up to 500 like the other ones possibly could. So scrap my 40, 500 pig tally, 500-450, ha, thats 50 pigs in this unit, from that last story, the latest to come out about the farms. So,my number has gone down to a tiny 40 thousand, and 50 pigs, assuming the other units do hold up to 500 each. Like I said, I never claimed to have all the facts about this operation, I get my information from the media who only seem to say it will be a good thing, I dont think ive seen any fear about diseases coming from the pigs, or anything bad happening, just that it will bring billions to Southland, give people jobs, and help sick people. Meanwhile, according to my latest crazy number that could be well off again, there COULD be 40 thousand and 50 pigs stuck in concrete prison cells. I wont be upset if Im wrong again, and it turns out to be a lot less, I really want the number of pigs experimented on to be a nice round ZERO.

Ok, one of the questions I had for Living Cell Technologies was how the pigs would be used. I have seen they will have concrete living spaces, I think it will be one pig per little concrete cage setup, and that they will be kept separate from anything that could get them sick, I dont know how that happens, if their food is sterilised before its given to them, if they ever are allowed to be patted by their keepers, that sort of thing. Remember, I dont have any facts about this stuff.

I also wanted to know how their liver cells will be taken from them, are they killed, and sliced open for their liver? And then what would happen, the rest of them, the other 95% of the pig gets thrown into the trash? No, that would be wasteful! So it gets made into ULTRA clean bacon? "certified disease free", hell, thats better than Free Range! a thousand bucks a KG at pak n save?

If the pigs are not killed, then are they kept alive, like the Chinese Bile Bears, where the bears are kept alive with a hole in their body, so their bile, stomach acids, can be sucked out and sold as a phony medicine.

Reading from the wikipedia article, Islet (eye lit)(not sure how to say that word, islet or islet) Islet Cell Transplantation, is taken from dead donors, so the pigs would be killed and then the liver would be used I guess. This also explains the large number of pigs , up to 40 and a half thousand by my bad calculation, so I guess maybe they use each pig just once, for one person, they would go through pigs fast for a worldwide demand.

The islet cells take hold inside the patient, and they help the person produce enough insulin, they may be able to live without taking insulin injections, their bodies will make enough with help from the pigs cells. The pigs need to be supposedly Disease Free, to stop any diseases from the pigs crossing over into the patient, where they might mingle with human diseases and create a major problem, a Swine Flu type plague that affects humans.

I feel very angry about the use of any animals for medical reasons, even if it does help human beings, I still dont agree with animals being kept in small cages, in many cases unable to move, its no different from Factory Farming to me. It is sad for people who have Diabetes, if the media hypes up these poor Auckland Island pigs, "rescued from paradise" to live in concrete pig prisons, if these are made out to be a cure for these people suffering Diabetes, but I am sorry, I just dont agree with how the animals are kept, treated, and probably killed in the end. If I had an illness, and was told that a transplant from an animal could help me, I would reject it. Id rather die my natural life, however short that is, than have a large number of animals kept in small areas, and presumably killed, to help extend my human life.

I'll keep up with any news from Living Cell Technologies, to see if they will use the Auckland Island pigs for other experiments, and to think, its happening very close to where I live, I thought medical experiments like this would only happen in America, not 20 kilometres or so from where I am right now.

Thank you very much for listening to episode 30 of Jay Wont dart's podcast. My outro will be a clip about Animal Rights from Ali G, this might offend some people, he jokes about being mean to animals, with some animal rights campaigners to represent our side. Im playing this to lighten my mood as I feel Im the only one in Invercargill who is upset about the Pig Farm about to suck organs out of pigs to squirt them into sick people, being serious just makes me more upset about how the Auckland Island pigs are being treated. Two of the people who campaign for animal rights in the clip are happily sitting on a leather couch, I think its leather from the video, that upsets me more than a comedian playing a stupid character who mentions stupid , and made up, acts. Also, the woman at the start who looks after hedgehogs is sitting on a cow print chair. These people are meant to be against animals being killed, and their skins being used! These people are real, and should know better!

In the clip, Ali jokes about prodding a dog with a fork to make it talk, kicking a hedgehog, and "doing his own experiments on animals" by putting a mouse in a microwave. I can laugh at how crazy it is, because I know its not real, but if it were real, then of course I would be horrified. Just giving a warning to people who dont want to hear the clip.

If you want to contact me, even just to say you listened, send an email to, j a y w o n t d a r t @, I'd appreciate it.

Have a super happy day, bye.

INTRO: 60 minutes clip
OUTRO: ali g animal rights clip

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