IVF on the march

TheGuardian.com | Ian Sample | Feb 2 2018

In vitro fertilization UK doctors select first women to have ‘three-person babies’

Doctors in Newcastle have been granted permission to create Britain’s first “three-person babies” for two women who are at risk of passing on devastating and incurable genetic diseases to their children.

The green light from the fertility regulator means that doctors at the Newcastle Fertility Centre will now attempt to make healthy embryos for the women by merging fertilised eggs created through standard IVF with DNA from female donors.

The women will be the first in Britain to have so-called mitochondrial donation therapy, a radical IVF procedure that was made legal by parliamentary vote in 2015. The Newcastle centre was granted a licence to perform the treatment, also known as mitochondrial replacement therapy, in March last year.

While doctors at Newcastle Fertility Centre said they could not to talk about the cases, citing patient confidentiality, minutes from the HFEA’s approval committee reveal that the two women carry mutations in a gene that causes a rare condition known as myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibres, or Merrf syndrome. No more details are given on the women because both wish to remain anonymous.

Merrf syndrome can be a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that worsens over time and often results in an early death. The condition, which affects one in 100,000 people, is typically diagnosed in early childhood or adolescence when people develop sudden spasms which progress to a loss of muscle control, weakness, deafness and dementia. Read more.

IVF children speak out

How would you feel if you discovered that you had been conceived by unknown "donors"?

One young woman described how she felt upon learning her origin:

... In a single day, I went from looking at my appearance without second thought, to looking at a stranger. I feel uncomfortable in my skin. I caught myself looking at my hand and thinking about why it looks the way it does. My hands don’t really resemble my mother’s hands, so now I am left wondering if someone out there has these same hands.

I have never looked like my family, but wasn’t all too concerned with it. I would pry at my parents about whether or not I could have been adopted or mixed up in the hospital room. My parents would joke back, saying they found me in a log on the beach. I now felt like this was more true than ever. Even my connection to my mother felt weak. Although it doesn’t make any sense, I feel as though I am a complete stranger to myself and to the family I have always known and loved. I feel like an outsider, regardless of the logistics.

I know about the 5 stages of grief. First comes denial and isolation, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. I see myself muddling through these stages, but the order is completely messed up. At some moments I feel normal and completely accepting. Other times I feel angry, not even at anyone or anything in particular. I feel sad, alone, confused, and lost at times, while other times I feel nothing at all. I am on a roller coaster of emotions and I am not even sure why. I don’t like that I am suddenly grieving a person that I do not know or care to ever know. More importantly, I feel as though I am grieving myself... Read more

The Coalition Against Reproductive Trafficking is on a mission: to protect human life and dignity by working to end all Third Party Reproduction, most urgently surrogacy, and to educate the public about the harms.

This video introduces an original ballad written and sung by Kevin Staudt who was donor conceived. It is powerful and haunting.

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

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Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.