The Xeno Solution by Nelson Erlick

 

SuspenseThe Xeno Solution by Nelson Erlick The Xeno Solution
Nelson Erlick; Forge Books 2005
WorldCat

Dr. Scott Merritt is an orthopedic doctor who had to give up active practice due to muscular sclerosis. He now works with a consulting company that audits the records of medical solution providers. Merritt recently finished the audit of a major xenotransplantation supply company. Although Merritt doesn’t believe using genetically engineered pigs is yet viable for kidney and liver transplants to humans, he has to say that the audit shows the Institute for Research of Animal Compatible Transplantations (IRACT) has a good track record. Despite Merritt’s misgivings, he feels he must give a favorable report to a Senate Hearing next week awarding IRACT a major database project for the government. This should cement IRACT’s place in the market and make xeontransplantation affordable and viable.

The IT supervisor at IRACT dies in a house explosion. Her boyfriend is killed within 24 hours. The boyfriend had slipped a CD to  Merritt. Merritt and his best friend, a computer genius, hack into the CD. The information is the real data on IRACT’s patient survival performance. Someone had changed the data, skewing it to appear much better that it actually is. Merritt now begins to wonder about the two deaths. Then he and his wife are kidnapped from one place. His mother-in-law and children are kidnapped from another and kept apart from their parents. Merritt quickly learns these people play for keeps and will do anything to keep the true information about the poorer success rate of xenotransplantation from getting out. He doesn’t know there are billions of international dollars resting on the Senate Committee’s favorable recommendation of IRACT.

Merritt realizes there’s a larger danger as well as the immediate one to his family. There is an inactive retrovirus in the genetically engineered pigs that can be triggered by a human flu virus. The two combined could lead to a pandemic that would kill off most of the people in the world. The true records show this possibility. The falsified records hide the information. And there is a hospital that is now ground zero for this virus.

Dr. Nelson Erlick has used his medical and research knowledge to write a tight, action packed medical thriller. The Xeno Solution was first published almost ten years ago and could easily be taken from today’s headlines. Erlick’s novel is set in 2014 or 2015 or so. The idea of xenotransplantation has been around for 100 years or more. It wanes and waxes in popularity for research. Erlick uses known medical and immunology science to set up the basis of The Xeno Solution.

The Xeno Solution takes place over only a few days but has as many bombs, guns, and bodies as any Bruce Willis action movie. No character is safe despite the reader’s wishes. The bad guys get caught out in the end and IRACT is stopped. But what is the cost in life over these few days? What is the cost of the lives of people who could have benefited from the genetically engineered pigs’ organs? What is the cost of the quality of life for those who do survive?

Erlick not only has written a good medical thriller, but gives the reader a philosophical bone that is common in the medical world. Do you sacrifice one or two (or ten) for the good of hundreds? Do you discontinue research and treatment due to the threat of a new virus or keep working on it until the virus activates or not? There is also the black and white of The Xeno Solution. It is unethical to rewrite the numbers or scam the results of medical tests and records. It is inhuman to kidnap a man’s young children just so he will lie to a Senate Hearing Committee. It is monstrous to shoot a child’s grandmother when the child is in the next room.

It may be difficult to find a library carrying a copy of this book (I only found one copy in the California public library consortium). If you can handle the blood and gore, The Xeno Solution  is an excellent novel. If you like your medical thrillers that COULD happen, check out this book.

Notice: Graphic violence, Strong language

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