Chimerism in Humans

Modern scientific technology, among other advances, have deeply transformed the 21st century into a world of marvels not only in the field of engineering as exemplified by great skyscrapers but also in medicine, with regards to knowledge on Chimeras. Genetically, Chimeras are living beings, both animals and humans, with two or more genetically distinct lines of cells or tissues, originating from two individuals or different zygotes, as defined by Van Dijk, Boomsma & J.M. de Man (1996). This leads to the creation of a complex organism with two or more genetic identities, which can occur naturally or through artificial means.

Contrasted to Mosaicism and tied to Greek mythology, where the chimera was a mythological composite creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail, Chimerism's mixed-entity status in humans is defined by two or more genetic identities. Artificially, Chimerism occurs during transplantation or transfusion where Chimerism is shown to occur in the bone marrow, the blood or during growth of various body organs (Van Dijk, Boomsma & J.M. de Man, 1996). The information provided by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (2013) details the testing of Chimerism after transplantation, which proves the artificial connection.

Van Dijk, Boomsma & J.M. de Man (1996) lists and defines other forms of Chimerism including dispermic or tetragametic Chimerism, which can cause hermaphroditism, and twin Chimerism, among others such as micro-Chimerism. Eikmans & Claas (2011) define micro-Chimerism as the presence of cells, less than 1 percent, not belonging to a person, as detected in his/her blood, tissues, organs or even bone marrow. The natural occurrence of Chimerism is proven by Nyberg, Haapala & Simola's (1992) study, where a woman gave birth to a twin boy, dispermic Chimera, which occurred due to an inherited chromosomal translocation.

Potential challenges related to being a human Chimera are expounded by Lam (2013) in the science creative quarterly, who provides fictional scenarios from popular culture as well as real scenarios involving possible prosecution and deniability of maternity. The fictional scenarios involve popular novels, TV and film including Next, House, and CSI while the real cases involve Karen Keegan and Lydia Fairchild. In summary, being a human Chimera's, though acknowledged as rare, can occur naturally or artificially, with potential for significant problems to the human Chimeras and their families, as shown by Lam (2013).

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