When Challenged, Vivisectors Couldn't Name One Patient
Whose Life Had
Been Saved By Animal Experiments
Proof that animal experiments don't save lives
by Vernon Coleman
It's now official: vivisection is a barbaric waste of time, of no value
whatsoever to human beings.
Some years ago I issued a simple but crucial
challenge to vivisectors on this website.
The challenge was widely
publicised and was very simple. I challenged vivisectors - and those who support
vivisection - to find ONE patient whose life had been saved as a direct result
of animal experimentation - and whom they could prove would now be dead if it
had not been for animal experiments.
desperate search, vivisectors and their supporters have failed to find one
patient, anywhere in the world, whose life has been saved by animal
I am not in the slightest surprised.
But this truly
must now be the end of the vivisectors' wicked pretence that what they do is of
value to medicine, doctors and patients.
For years vivisectors and their
supporters have claimed that they have to keep torturing and killing animals to
save human lives.
For years vivisectors have claimed that they want to
debate the issue on scientific and medical grounds.
This was their big
chance to prove their point.
When I issued the challenge I told
vivisectors that if they met the challenge successfully those of us who oppose
vivisection would, in the future, have to rely on moral and ethical
But I also pointed out that if vivisectors could not meet this
challenge they would lose any remaining credibility.
And the anti-vivisectionists have won.
This is a complete
and utter humiliation for vivisectors.
The argument is now officially
It is now official that vivisection is a cruel fraud - done solely
for money and kudos.
Vivisection has nothing whatsoever to do with people
Remember that next time you hear a scientist claiming that
vivisection helps people.
This seems a good point to deal with a number
of letters on vivisection.
My mail always contains a vast selection of
letters from VCHL readers who want vivisection stopped. But I've also had
letters from readers expressing the other point of view.
Some argue that
attempts to bring animal experimentation to an end are doomed because animal
experiments are regarded as essential by the law and, indeed, by the medical
profession's own requirements.
In fact there are no laws in the UK
requiring drug companies (or anyone else) to perform animal experiments (see my
book `Fighting for Animals' for the evidence - including official ministerial
confirmation). The World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki (on
recommendations guiding physicians in biomedical research in human subjects) was
officially amended in 2000 and laboratory procedures on animals are no longer
recommended as essential before studies in humans are conducted.
experiments are conducted only because they enable drug companies to launch new
products on the market without proper clinical testing. And people as well as
animals suffer because of animal experiments.
I have also received a
considerable amount of mail from readers arguing that people who are opposed to
animal experiments shouldn't take drugs which had been tested on
This is a nonsense (though, sadly, I know of a number of people
who have refused life-saving treatment because of this rather callous and
inaccurate argument). There is no drug on the market which would not have been
produced just as speedily (and in most cases more speedily) without animal
I've also had letters (including quite a few from some very
eminent doctors) claiming that the majority of doctors approve of animal
A few years ago I conducted what was, and probably still is,
the biggest ever survey of doctors on this subject.
* 88% of doctors
agreed that laboratory experiments performed on animals can be misleading
because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and
* 69% of doctors agreed that too many experiments on animals are
* 51% of doctors agreed that patients would suffer fewer side
effects if new drugs were tested more extensively on human cell and tissue
* 81% of doctors would like to see scientists trying harder to
find alternatives to animals for testing drugs and cosmetics.
reader who is a former cardio thoracic surgeon argues that without animal
experiments cardiac surgery, particularly open heart surgery, would not have
been developed and established.
The basic claim is that by chopping up
animals (usually dogs or monkeys) surgeons can learn and experiment with
techniques which will help them when they do experiments on people. History
suggests otherwise. Two thousand years ago a Greek surgeon called Galen based
his writings and lectures on experiments he conducted on pigs. At the time
surgeons were not allowed to chop up dead human bodies and so Galen's work was
all that was available. It is, however, now generally agreed among medical
historians that Galen's work held back medical progress for several hundred
years until religious restrictions were withdrawn and doctors were allowed to
cut up human cadavers. Only then did doctors discover that there are significant
differences between the anatomy of the pig and the anatomy of a
Open heart surgery long pre-dates the often mistakenly credited
animal experiments. In my book `The Story of Medicine' I reported that the first
open heart operation was performed by Professor Rehn of Frankfurt, who
successfully repaired a right ventricular stab wound in 1896. In the scientific
paper which announced the success of his operative procedure Rehn explained that
he was forced to operate by the fact that his patient was bleeding to death
after being stabbed between the ribs with a kitchen knife. Just two years later
(1898) doctors were proposing to operate on the mitral valve in order to restore
cardiac function. These experiments were performed on real live human patients
who would have died if surgery had not been attempted.
operations have certainly been done on a wide range of animals (hearts, kidneys
and even heads have been transplanted by enthusiastic experimenters) but these
experiments have constantly misled pioneering surgeons rather than helped
If you look at the results obtained after surgeons began performing
heart transplant operations you can easily see that for the first few months the
mortality rate has invariably been horrendously high. Then, steadily, the
mortality rate begins to fall a little as the surgeons gain more experience of
human hearts. What is clear from the figures is that the first human patients
are the real guinea pigs. The experiments on animals are of no practical value.
The real problems occur after surgery has been performed and involve organ
rejection and injection - problems which animal experiments do not help doctors
overcome. In the early days of heart transplantation, over a nine year period,
approximately four hundred heart transplant operations were carried out on dogs
but the first human patients died because of complications which had not arisen
in the animal experiments. As usual differences in anatomy and physiology mean
that the results obtained from animal experiments cannot be used to help
surgeons operating on people.
In a way all this misses the point, of
course. Animal researchers may claim that their work helps transplant surgeons.
But it is no coincidence that Britain, which has for years led the world in
transplant surgery, has one of the highest death rates from heart disease in the
world. Most cases of heart disease can (and could and should) be
And, as I have reported in numerous books, work done in the US
has shown that heart disease is most effectively treated without drugs or
surgery. A simple curative programme (based on diet, exercise and stress
control) has proved to be the safest, most effective and most economical way to
reverse existing heart disease.
The real bottom line is stark: no animal
experiment has ever saved a human life. But animal experiments have led to many
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003