What if a donor organ was immediately available for use in a liver transplant? What if kidney dialysis became a thing of the past due to an abundance of donor kidneys for a transplant? In The Xeno Solution by Dr. Nelson Erlick such a fictional world exists. But it is an imperfect world.
Main character Dr. Scott Merritt is a former orthopedic surgeon, retired from practice due to symptoms of MS (multiple sclerosis). He is working for Verity Healthcare Consultants, responsible for auditing the IRACT (Institute for the Research of Animal Compatible Transplantations) database of xenotransplantations, i.e., transplantation of animal organs to human. He is due to testify before a senate subcommittee in a week’s time on the safety of xenotransplantation using pig organs. The FDA would then switch control of a National Xenotransplant Registry to IRACT. Big money rides on the decision.
Merritt is troubled by visions of a viral pandemic. A xenozoonotic virus could possibly occur despite assurances that pig organs are completely virus free. When some important files go missing from IRACT and the Database Administrator dies, a dramatic chain of events occurs which results in Merritt fighting for his life and the lives of others. Merritt finds grounds to support his apocalyptic visions. The story takes on the aspect of an action-adventure novel with all the murder and mayhem expected from such genres.
I confess to being disappointed as the story takes a turn for the perilous. The novel’s first half covers a lot of technical matter regarding xenotransplantation, viruses, immune response, and delivers the goods for the fan of medical thrillers. A certain knowledge of medical terminology and physiology is expected of the reader. Erlick enlightens the reader to the scientific issues essential to the plot. I believe the second half of the novel degenerates into a comic-book-like series of violent events more suitable for a James Bond novel.
There are also a few holes in the plot which defy logic. Such as when Merritt manages to survive under a tarp for seven hours in freezing temperatures after being doused in Chesapeake Bay.
The medical and science aspects are well conceived and written. I noticed a few typos and one instance of identical sentences repeated a paragraph later word for word. (pp 26-27) All in all, the book is an enjoyable read for an airplane trip, waiting room, or while on the subway.
Dr. Erlick has written a previous novel with a medical theme GermLine.