A huge number of baboons are being used in 'Frankenstein-like surgical experiments' across a number of Sydney hospitals and universities, according to a six-month long investigation by Fairfax Media. They discovered a number of sickening experiments being covered up, including a kidney transplant from a pig to a baboon, and two baboon individuals being 'rendered diabetic'.
These experiments, which are being conducted largely under Australian tax-payers funds, are being carried out at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) baboon colony in Wallia, Sydney, as well as marmoset and macaque colonies in Churchill, Victoria. NSW Health denies the organ transplant of a pig's kidney into the baboon named 'Conan', who subsequently had to be killed.
The organisations categorically deny these accusations by Fairfax Media, despite the NHMRC admitting in writing that it funded research for "whole organ animal to animal xenotransplantation".
NSW Health blocked a Freedom of Information request by Fairfax Media to gain photographs and records of this research. It suggested that revealing the information could "prejudice the conduct, effectiveness or integrity of any research by revealing its purpose, conduct or results (whether or not commenced and whether or not completed)".
Helen Marston, CEO of Humane Research Australia said: "The procedures these animals have been subjected to are gruesome and could even be compared with Frankenstein-like experiments, and much of it is undertaken using taxpayer funds." She added: "The industry is shrouded in secrecy despite the fact that it is funded with our tax dollars and few Australians are even aware that primates are used in research here."
Conan endured a full kidney transplant from a genetically modified pig in early 2014, according to the reports. They say that Conan was killed on 20 March 2014 after experiencing "disseminated intravascular coagulation" – huge amounts of blood clots that ultimately cut off the entire blood supply to organs.
Information had been received which suggested Conan the baboon was being held in the 'Vivarium' at Westmead Hospital, with three other baboons. One of them, Scar, has undergone a transgenic procedure using tissue from a pig, and was on huge doses of immunosuppressants. The other two baboons kept with Conan – Belvedere and Frazer – were reportedly 'rendered diabetic' and waited for a similar transplant from pigs. It is unknown what happened to Scar, Belvedere and Frazer.
A research paper cited by Humane Research Australia said the baboons used for pig islet transplants were killed after having their livers removed. The pigs used were also killed after being bred for the purposes of the research.
A Sydney Local health District spokeswoman said: "The colony has helped medical researchers conduct important research which has contributed significantly to paving the way for new treatments of disorders such as pre-eclampsia, complicated diabetes, kidney disorders and vascular diseases."
Similarly, the University of Sydney said it aimed to reduce the number of primates being used in research. She did concede that there was once approved piece of research which uses a small number of primates.
"All procedures were performed on fully anaesthetised animals that were then euthanised – the animals were never aware of these procedures and did not feel any pain," said the spokeswoman from the university. "All researchers would prefer not to use animals in their research. However, in their quest to cure blindness, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and many other illnesses, animal research is currently the best hope for finding a cure."