When a disease is donated

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President on March 28, 2008


My colleague, Dr. Jennifer Schneider, is attending this conference today. I had wanted to go, but just couldn’t get to Chicago to attend this week. So many conferences, so little time (and travel budget!). But this conference was of interest as it is on the feasibility of a voluntary registry to track egg and sperm donors. It looks suspect though, because it is being put on by those in the IVF industry – who have conflicts of interest. And from what I have read, this registry seems more focused on the “product” (egg or sperm) vs. concerns for the donors. A means to better screen donors to be sure those buying the eggs and sperm don’t get damaged goods. Much was made over the story of the gay couple who used donated gametes to have a baby. Once the baby was born, it was discovered she had Tay Sachs disease. This is what is driving the agenda behind the conference today. Not that egg donors may be at risk. Not that the children born out of IVF need to have their concerns thought of. But the commodification of children. Let’s be sure the ones born are good ones. Whatever that means.

In the Chicago Tribune, Jennifer Schneider was interviewed yesterday. You can read the interview here. Jennifer lost her daughter Jessica to colon cancer. Jessica was diagnosed at the very young age of 29 years. She was very healthy, athletic, vegan, non -smoker with no family history of the cancer which took her life at age 31. What is significant to her story is that she had sold her eggs three times. I’d like to see a registry established which would protect people like Jessica too. Pictured here before her death.

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