Designer Babies? Or Hope?
Designer babies. We've been reading about them lately. A lab in the U.S. has found a way to take DNA from three different monkeys -- sperm from one, and unfertilized eggs from a young and older female monkey, extracting the DNA from both eggs, inserting the DNA into the younger, fresher egg, and producing a baby that has the genes of the older monkey in the youthful shell of the younger monkey.
Sound surreal? It's already happened with humans in a clinic, according to The New York Times, and Fox News reports that 19 babies have been born this way since 2001. The idea originally was to allow women with known genetic abnormalities to screen for these birth defects in lab-created embryos to find those without the mutations.
Currently something like this can be done through in-vitro fertilization using a method called pre-implant genetic diagnosis (PGD) but it wouldn't help women like me who wanted to have a baby with her own genetics but whose eggs were just too old.
I wound up using a donor's egg -- and genetics -- to have my son.
This new process, currently being considered for regulation by the FDA, and causing a huge stir of outrage and fear and hope across the country, would help meet the dream of many others wishing to pass on their genes through a baby they were unable to have on their own.
I don't know how I feel about this. Back 15 years ago, when I started trying to have a baby, it was talked about in hushed whispers, and referred to as "cloning." Nobody wanted to go near the topic.
But now that it's worked in animals, some of our more brave medical personnel are thinking it's time to extend it to humans.
For a while now, fertility clinics have offered couples the ability to choose the sex of their offspring, and many opponents of this new idea use that as a reason why, not to do it.
But this isn't about choosing blond hair and blue eyes (which I got, even though I'm olive-skinned, with hair as dark as night) or a genius IQ. It's about giving hope to women whose genes will die with them.
I felt a little more positive reading that a lot happens in the womb that affects the unborn child, such as which genes are activated because of the fetal environment. But when people look at my son and see only my husband, I admit it hurts (though one friend swears he has my nose, not my husband's honker!).
But after all this, I began to realize this wouldn't work for me. If I'd had a baby with my genes, I wouldn't have Phillip.