Federal Documents Confirm PETA’s Allegations of Abuse in UAB’s Baboon Organ Transplant Lab

Laboratory Involved in Pig-to-Human Kidney Transplant Violated Animal Welfare Guidelines

For Immediate Release:
June 9, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Birmingham, Ala.

Newly obtained federal documents corroborate PETA’s allegations of acute animal suffering and violations of federal animal welfare regulations and guidelines at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), including inside the xenotransplantation laboratory, in which the organs of genetically modified pigs are transplanted into baboons. Records show that UAB experimenters failed to comply with veterinary standards of practice, failed to ensure that medications administered to animals had not expired, and failed to maintain adequate records and even falsified records

PETA filed a complaint in 2020 after a whistleblower provided evidence on a host of problems in the transplant lab, including that the transplant of a kidney from a genetically modified pig into the body of a female baboon named Laja caused pockets of fluid to collect under her skin along the incision site and that experimenters apparently applied a syringe of Woolite laundry detergent to the wound. Federal reports confirm that “a detergent for cleaning topical areas on animals [was used instead of] a more appropriate … product.”

Earlier this year, this same laboratory was involved in the transplant of kidneys from pigs into a brain dead human.

PETA is now calling on university President Ray L. Watts to address the incompetence and chronic neglect and bar experimenters who violate regulations from testing on animals and to implement PETA scientists’ Research Modernization Dealing, a strategy to ending failed animal experiments and implement modern, animal-free research methods.

“UAB experimenters apparently don’t care at all about regulations, animal suffering, or good science,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is calling on President Watts to embrace our Research Modernization Deal and replace useless animal experiments with modern, animal-free technology.”

The reports also reveal dozens of additional incidents in which UAB experimenters failed to comply with federal animal welfare guidelines between February 2018 and December 2021. Among other serious issues, UAB experimenters failed to provide more than 400 animals who were used in surgeries or other painful procedures with adequate pain relief. In fiscal year 2021, UAB received more than $327 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health, and half of that is estimated to have funded experiments on animals.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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