About the Story
In the second book of the McBride trilogy, David enters the story having committed an egregious act that transgresses both moral and civil law. Left with no semblance of a normal life—his family, freedom, and humanity stripped away—he resigns to accept his fate and face whatever punishment is forthcoming. But, David McBride soon finds himself caught between opposing forces—a corporate spy representing a prominent Russian biotech firm, and a man trying to save his daughter’s life—who are battling for control of the organ fabrication technologies that are vital to the growth of human organs in the laboratory.
When I started writing The Organ Takers I envisioned it as a stand alone novel. I had no plans to write a follow up or turn the story into a series. However, at the end, David McBride was in such a dark place (an ending I did not foresee) that I felt I could not simply leave him there. I had to give him a chance to pick himself up and climb out of the black hole in which he had put himself, thus the inspiration for The Organ Growers. In this second book of what is now going to be a trilogy, David will be given the chance to redeem himself. He may not want redemption. In fact, at the beginning of the story, it is unclear what he wants, but in fiction as in real life, sometimes you get what you need, not what you want.
Read the Reviews
“Van Anderson hits the ground running in the breathless middle volume of his medical thriller trilogy featuring Dr. David McBride … Robin Cook fans will appreciate Van Anderson’s skill at combining action with plausible extrapolations of what is currently medically possible.”–Publishers Weekly
“The second installment of Van Anderson’s series ably expands on the previous installment’s story … The energetic narrative keeps its edge with a constant sense of threat … A commendable thriller that makes its medical science riveting and exhilarating.”–Kirkus Reviews
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View Related Videos
In The Organ Takers I show you a lab full of organs that have been grown from porcine (pig) scaffolds and human stem cells. In The Organ Growers I take you through the process of growing a human kidney using human stem cells and a porcine kidney. Can human organs really be grown in the lab, or is this science fiction? Watch the videos below to find out.
Here’s the short-attention-span edition:
Read an Excerpt
As David McBride was being driven uptown, a jacked up, twin cab Ford Superduty smashed through the NuLife gate at 50mph, dragging a 12-foot section of hurricane fencing behind it as it barreled down the short stretch of road leading to the parking lot. Just before reaching the lot, the truck veered left, leaving the road and bashing through dead undergrowth, brush, and small trees. It pulled around the back of the building and stopped, its front end pointed toward the highway, the back end with its four-inch tubular steel wraparound bumper aimed at the side of the red brick building. The driver gunned the engine, slammed the truck into reverse, and stomped on the gas. About the time it hit 20mph the truck rammed the building, reducing the outside wall of Andrew Turnbull’s office to rubble. Four men wearing ski masks jumped out. While two of the men dug through busted up bricks and concrete, the other two waved P90s in the air, but the show of force wasn’t necessary. Before anyone inside the building could react, the men had found the safe and thrown it into the back of the truck. By the time they passed through the gate they had been on the grounds all of three minutes.
The Ford Superduty pulled into a cavernous abandoned warehouse somewhere in the armpit of Newark and parked next to a black BMW 760Li. As the four men climbed from the crew cab, Mikhail Petrovsky motioned toward a steel workbench that had been positioned in the middle of the floor. The men hauled the safe from the bed of the truck to the bench, then climbed back in and drove out the far end of the warehouse.
Petrovsky’s safecracker went to work immediately, examining the safe, the lock mechanism, the door. He turned to Petrovsky, who was leaning against the BMW. “I can use a robot safe dialer, and with some creative programming, I’ll have this open in under an hour.”
“I don’t care how you get in there. Just do it?”
While the safecracker went to work, Petrovsky turned to Samuel Keating. “For your sake, the books had better be in there.”
“Andrew Turnbull was totally paranoid,” Keating said, “and the closer we came to success, the more his paranoia grew. I mean, I think they’re in there, but I can’t say for sure.”
The bigger, taller Petrovsky glared down at the shorter, smaller Keating, then lit a cigarette.
About twenty minutes later the robot safe dialer was up and running. The safecracker had fit a bracket around the dial. Centered in the bracket was a motorized arm, or shaft, with three pincers on the end that grasped the dialer. The safecracker had entered some information into a laptop, and, accompanied by a soft mechanical hum, the arm started turning the dial, back and forth, sometimes all the way around, at a much faster pace than a human hand could ever achieve.
“What’s that thing doing?” Petrovsky asked.
“The robot dialer is programmed to try all possible combinations for this particular lock, but it can do it much faster than a human, and the programming can rule out a large number of possibilities before the robot has to try them.”
“Wouldn’t it be faster to slap some C4 on the hinges and just blow it open?”
“Yes, but the intense heat would fry whatever’s inside.”
“Of course,” Petrovsky said. He lit another cigarette and blew a plume of smoke toward the rafters. Even though the safecracker looked like he should be unloading ships on the docks of Murmansk instead of finessing open a safe, he came highly recommended from the home office, and he seemed to know what he was doing. “How much longer?” Petrovsky asked.
“Forty minutes or less.”
Thirty-two minutes later, an audible click signaled that the final tumbler had fallen into place. Petrovsky and Keating walked over to the table.
The safecracker pointed at the L-shaped lever on the door. “Turn that 45 degrees and you’re in.”
Petrovsky did, and the safe opened. Inside was a stack of black-and-white marbled composition notebooks, the books he’d been trying to get his hands on for eight months. He lifted them out and set them on the table. Each book had a handwritten title corresponding to a specific organ—Lungs, Livers, Kidneys—or a certain aspect of technique—Nutrient Media, Progenitor Cells, Porcine Scaffold.
Keating looked through the stack and thumbed through some of the pages.
“Well?” Petrovsky said. “Is this what I need? Can I send these to my employer, and they will be able to grow human organs in the laboratory?”
“Uh, yeah,” Keating replied. “I think so.”
“What do you mean, you think so?”
Keating spread out the books, reread all the titles, wiped his forehead with his shirtsleeve.
“What do you mean?” Petrovsky said again, yelling this time, his voice echoing through the warehouse.
“I think there’s one missing.”
“Missing? One of them is missing? Which one?”
“The one describing the infrared light.”
“That’s the most important of them all. That is what my employers need most. Check again. Maybe the infrared techniques are written down in one of the other books.”
Keating examined each notebook, thumbed through the pages, front to back, searching for anything related to infrared light, or low level laser therapy, but he found nothing, and after he’d looked through all of them he turned to Petrovsky. “It’s not here.”
In one swift move Petrovsky pinned Keating’s head to the steel table and shoved his Glock 19 into Keating’s mouth. “For eight months,” Petrovsky screamed, “I’ve paid for your gambling and your whores, and still I have nothing.”
The safecracker backed away from the table.
Keating gripped the workbench and muttered something unintelligible.
Petrovsky jammed the muzzle of the handgun deeper into Keating’s throat. “I want that fucking book, so you better figure out where it is.”
Keating gagged and coughed.
Petrovsky removed the gun, wiped the saliva off the barrel with one of the safecracker’s lint-free cloths, and slipped it back into his shoulder harness.
Keating straightened and rubbed the side of his head, then wiped the spit from the corners of his mouth with his shirtsleeve. He composed himself and said, “I have some ideas.”
“They better be good ones.”