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Student activity: Ethics and pig cell transplants



Upper Secondary


Nature of Science
Living World


In this activity, students use role-playing to explore different stakeholders’ perspectives on the issue of using pig cells to treat type 1 diabetes. Transplanting pig cells into humans is a type of xenotransplantation, which raises ethical issues about animal welfare, individual rights and risk of spreading disease. Peoples’ views will be influenced by their cultural, spiritual and religious perspectives.


By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • present and justify the views of a given stakeholder group on pig cell transplants.
  • use a role-playing scenario to highlight the diversity of issues raised by people for and against pig cell transplants.
  • understand that ethical issues are often complex, with no right answer, but ethical deliberation can help us to make informed, justified decisions.


xenotransplantation, ethics, pig cells, diabetes, risks, benefits.


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