Thursday, 16 August 2007

Is genetic perfection obtainable? Is it preferable?

A reader suggested that Sarah and I should spend less time focussing on genetic perfection because "child birth is a lottery." He felt that we should check for critical genetic predispositions but beyond that, should primarily focus on bringing our child up well, otherwise we could "spend too long looking and not enough time enjoying!"

This brings me to a point that has been troubling me recently. Nobody has the perfect genetic makeup and by seeking that, we could be turning a blind eye to some donors with real potential. You only have to look at the difference between our views of bipolar disorder and those of the candidate Bobby and commentator Tom Wootten, to see that our narrow-mindedness may have already lead us to reject a suitable donor. Whilst Sarah and myself felt the condition would only hinder our child, the two manic depressive men felt that bipolar disorder can be a blessing.

I'm also concerned that in looking for perfect genes we are making judgment calls that we have no right to make. To discern the donor with perfect DNA, we essentially have to rank subgroups of the population - something we feel strongly against.

So far we've been aiming to give our child the best possible start in life by trying to reduce the chance that he or she will suffer from a health condition. However perhaps we're ignoring the fact that many people living with illnesses have successful and very satisfying lives. The problem for us is that to check the extent to which a health condition is manageable, we would have to do extensive research and it may be easier just to pick a healthy donor.

Your thoughts on this matter would be greatly welcomed.


james said...

some subgroups are better than others

Anonymous said...

I am someone who was once in your shoes. I don't think known donors are a good idea for several reasons.

First, here is the good advice given to me by those who had been there and done that. Don't have a child with a man you don't intend to parent with. Men who claim that they don't have any interest in parenting often change their minds when they meet the baby. And what about their parents? The baby's grandparents? What if they sued for custody? Are you in a location where gays and lesbians are automatically considered unfit parents if someone else requests custody?

Next, you worry about genetic and physical diseases. A good sperm bank screens and tests. It's not a guarantee, but it's better than nothing. And if you do testing with your donor, it's money out of your pocket. Known donors are NOT cheaper in the long run.

And, very important, if you use a sperm bank you have some assurance of the donor's fertility. A friend inseminated for a YEAR with a known donor before starting infertility testing. It turned out she had no problem, but the donor was completely infertile.

Anyway, good luck in your search and I hope you are successful at becoming Moms.