Designer Baby or Not, It Could Work

Interesting story today at smartplanet.com.  Designer babies.

It's not what you think.  Or maybe it is.  But British researchers have found a way to make a baby using three people.  It's not to make sure the baby has blond hair and blue eyes, and is a girl, with a 150 IQ, but to provide additional genes to prevent "debilitating and potentially fatal mitochondrial disease."

According to David Worthington, mitochondria are the parts of cells known as 'power stations' because they provide energy.  "Diseased mitochondria leaves people weak and can cause blindness, heart failure and death," he writes. This disorder affects one in every 6,500 babies in the UK, according to the BBC.

The way it works is through an in-vitro fertilization procedure.  Doctors extract eggs from the mother and sperm from the father, then combine them in the lab with a third person's disease-free mitochrondria.  I remember talk about something like this when I was trying to get pregnant at 46 -- taking genetic material from my eggs, inserting it into a younger woman's egg after her genes were taken out, then merged with my husband's sperm in an attempt to have a child with my own genes, but not my old eggs.

It became too controversial, because it was too close to cloning, and all research stopped.  In the end, I received an egg from a donor and conceived my son.

I'm probably the wrong person to talk to about this because I, of course, believe in using a third party.  There's no way I could have had my son without one.

And this makes sense to me, too.  If you know you have a disease that will most likely be passed on to your child, and there's a way to stop that from happening, why on earth would you not use the method?

Probably, to people who have no problem conceiving children in the "usual" way, this seems barbaric and too science-fiction.  If either of my first two pregnancies had succeeded, I'm sure I would have thought the same.  But after two miscarriages, I wanted a child the only way I could, and being pregnant and carrying the child was very important to me.  (We considered adoption but I needed to feel the baby growing in me, for a variety of reasons.)

I suppose it's a little scary now, all the ways to make a baby.  But I see it as a miracle.  Women, who in the past, were fated to remain childless, now have a chance at a family.  I was in my late 40s (too old, some people thought) when I had my child, but I feel just like the other parents now at soccer games.  (Luckily, I look like them, too, if I may brag -- and if the extreme exercise it takes doesn't kill me first!)

So, believe what you want about this.  Manipulating nature or creating a miracle.  It's actually both.






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