Despite the hostility from the religious right, stem cell research has been making progress and earlier this year a complete rat heart was developed in the laboratory of Doris Taylor. It wasn't magic, and there are still steps to be completed before it offers therapeutic treatment to heart attack sufferers but it's an example of the kind of benefits we can expect.
The heart was grown on a "scaffold" of connective tissue produced by stripping away the cells of a heart from a dead rat. The old cells were removed leaving a scaffold of connective tissue and this was then "seeded" with progenitor cells which are similar to stem cells except that they already have a distinct target cell type. (Stem cells can develop into any cell types, progenitor cells generally already have a specific target cell type.)
Just recently there was a news report of a replacement windpipe grown from a donor windpipe in which the cells had been removed, and again it was seeded with cells from the patient herself. There was no rejection as the cell types are the same as the patient.
In the past, liver tissue and bladders have been developed and even implanted back into patients.
This sort of tissue engineering has been going on for over a decade but is now starting to bear fruit. Religious bodies have been opposing stem cell research for years and caused a slowdown in research in the USA but with the election of Obama, things are expected to change. He has already indicated that he will enable stem cell research to take place, making funds available. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops predictably oppose it and they've warned that a change in the law will mean the current policy will be "replaced by the law of the jungle."
It seems ironic that since the law of the jungle basically means that the weak perish, the promising results of stem cell and progenitor cell research means that the weak won't perish. Instead, they'll be able to get regenerated tissue. There'll be cures available ranging from retina repair, pancreas regeneration for diabetics, nerve tissue regeneration to help paralysed people walk again, possible cures for Alzheimers and other debilitating illnesses.
Once again, it is crystal clear that ethics based on religious dogma is damaging to health. Hopefully, the Obama camp will be strong enough to reject these primitive superstitions and support tissue engineering. Who knows if "being a man of God" means that he gives into these superstitions too. Despite officially being a secular nation, the US is every bit as religious as Iran - and the Democrats have just as many religious zealots as the Republicans.