Anti-Xenotransplantation Coalition to March in New York Halloween Parade
Fifteen-foot-tall Puppet of Mad Scientist and a Dozen “Hybrid Attendants” Will Call Attention to the Dangers of FrankenScience
On October 31st, Halloween, the Campaign for Responsible Transplantation (CRT) – an international coalition of physicians, scientists and 75 public interest groups, will march in New York City’s annual Halloween parade, to call attention to the danger of transplanting animal organs, cells and tissues into humans – a process known as xenotransplantation.
“Halloween is an ideal time to educate the public about this dangerous technology,” says CRT’s Director Alix Fano.“ The New York parade is attended by over one million people, watched by some two million on local television, and broadcast world-wide, according to parade organizers.
CRT will have a 15-foot-tall puppet of a mad scientist. The grimacing giant, which represents the drug industry, has a dollar sign ($) for a tie clip, and clutches a pig-human creature in one hand. The striking puppet, which is so big, it requires 5 people to operate it, was built by noted puppeteer Theresa Linnihnan, of the Puppeteer’s Cooperative and the Czech-American Marionette Company. A dozen “hybrid attendants,” including several drama students from The Juilliard School, will march with the puppet. Wearing pig snouts and signs warning of contagious viruses, they will hand out flyers to the public. Others will carry a banner bearing the slogan “FrankenScience is Here.”
CRT believes that xenotransplantation could transfer deadly animal viruses to humans and unleash new viral epidemics. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has yet to respond to the group’s legal petition, filed back in December 1998, which demanded a ban on the technology in the interest of public health. CRT is considering legal action.
“If HHS really wanted to protect public health and serve the greatest number of people, they would ban xenotransplantation. Preventing disease before it begins, and increasing human organ and tissue donation should be HHS’s goal, not the promotion of a dangerous, expensive, and inhumane technology like xenotransplantation,” says Fano.