Embryos a Go-Go?

As someone who went through the rigors of infertility treatment for almost a year and a half, and then having success with my first IVF cycle, I'm obviously very sympathetic when I hear of or read about others going through the same thing. I was very blessed in that Rich and I were able to conceive our own biological child, but I know many other fellow IF-ers aren't. These couples use donor sperm, or donor eggs, or both, to conceive their children, and I'm all for it. After all, as Sasha said so eloquently, it's not the act of getting "knocked up" (with all its different variations) that's the accomplishment. That lies in becoming a decent mother or father.


So I'm not sure what to make of this article I read the other day. Basically, the FDA is investigating a Texas company that produces and sells "ready-made embryos" for $5K a pair. Customers can pick their pair after checking out the egg and sperm donors' characteristics, including their educational background and photos. The reason for the investigation is unknown at this point.

Okay, makes sense to me, I guess. I mean any infertile couple would want at least some information about the potential egg and sperm donors of their future children, right? And although I don't know too much about it (maybe someone out there reading this does?), I would imagine some clinics have donors who allow patients to view their photos as part of the screening process.

But then the woman who runs the clinic let fly with this little nugget when questioned about what she's doing: "Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?"

Oh boy.

So here are my thoughts. This woman appears to be manufacturing "designer embryos" in accempting sperm and eggs from only attractive and highly educated donors. (And as an aside, I'd like to know her criteria for acceptance, because in my opinion, a person who's deemed physically beautiful by one person is not necessarily another's cup o' tea. Case in point: Brad Pitt. Most women I know worship at the altar of Brad. Me? Not so much.)

I don't think fertility clinics have these kind of pre-qualifiers. I do know they only accept eggs and sperm from healthy and young (ish) donors, simply because they want patients to have the greatest chances for success with their treatment. This only makes sense. But by offering this service, this "buy my smart and hot embryos!" business, is she setting a dangerous precedent? And if not, where will this kind of "designer embryo creation" end? Will another company, or maybe even hers, eventually, allow you to screen for and select certain genes (those that make some kids tall and some short, some with brown eyes and some with blue)?

Alright. Tell me what you think.

And thank you, sincerely, to everyone who responded to my last post. I can't tell you how gratifying it was to read that I'm not the only one who feels the way I do about motherhood. Your responses were exactly what I needed.

8 Responses to “Embryos a Go-Go?”

  1. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Ok, I am deeply disturbed by parts of this, primarily her attitude. "Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?" she said. Wow. She has some nerve to just put it out there like that. I totally agree with your assessment, by the way. Judging from her photo, I am not sure I would want her egg... And I agree with you re: Brad Pitt. I am much more Clooney/Gyllenhal. But I digress... The reality is that the world needs all kinds of people and children and there is a place for all of them. The idea that we would pick people based on some Texan's standard of beauty and achievement is more than a little sickening to me.  

  2. # Blogger Damselfly

    "Buy my hot, smart embryos." Fantastic!

    Yes, that woman's comment is sad. It reduces human life, I think. As any parent knows, each child is a blessing, a miracle, and beauty or brains is just the icing on that miracle.  

  3. # Blogger kenju

    After Thelma and Louise, I didn't worship at the altar of Brad either. Oh, well there was that River Runs Through It" in which he was adorable, but I digress.

    That woman at that clinic sounds like Hitler.  

  4. # Blogger Marie

    "Anybody off the street can walk into a clinic and do exactly what I'm doing. They can hire an egg donor, they can hire a sperm donor, and they can create embryos," she said. "The problem is because I took the egg and the sperm and put them together. Now all of a sudden it's Pandora's box."

    Personally, I'm glad she has a link for adoption services on her web site too, along with a description of her embryo business.  

  5. # Blogger sher

    I'm disgusted by her comment. Jeesh! What a dunce! I think it's normal for most paretns to want some idea about the donors, but this woman is offensive to me!  

  6. # Blogger sunShine

    That just doesn't seem right to me. Her comments are off the wall. Sometimes the intelligence of a child has to do with the environment that they are raised in not necessarily how smart its parents are. I have also seen many UGLY people come from beautiful parents, so that really isn't a guarantee either.  

  7. # Blogger Kristi

    My Wombinations-I am on Team Gyllenhaal in a huge way. Love him!

    Damselfly-Yup, exactly.

    Kenju-Yes, early Brad is much more tolerable than Brangelina Brad.

    Marie-I am too. Ugh.

    Sher-Massively offensive.

    Sunshine-True. And likewise, two physically unattractive (by conventional standards) people can have beautiful children as well!  

  8. # Blogger Home Exchanger

    Not sure how I feel about the designer embryos. I have been blogging about my search for recipients for my spare embryos at http://embryodonation.blogspot.com/
    I wanted to help an infertile
    family and I wasn't using those last three embryos. So far, things have not gone at all as I expected with the donation...  

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