Saturday, May 19, 2012

Did We Roll The Genetic Dice ?

On May 14, 2012, The New York Times ran an article titled "In Choosing a Sperm Donor, A Roll of the Genetic Dice".  The article details the plight of several families whose children due possibly to a lack of testing or screening developed diseases that possibly are due to the donor's sperm.  It is another of the NYT articles on the topic written over the years that I feel couples planning / considering using donor insemination should read before going down this path.

I say it is a must read not so much to scare anyone away from this family building option but moreso that the couple thinks about what questions to ask the cryobank before buying vials of sperm.  Those questions may be different for each couple.

My own feelings are that the questions should include the following:

(1) Does the donor bio state what tests were run on the sample?
(2) Does the cryobank publicly list what tests are run on each donor and thesamples taken?(3) When was the donor sperm donated ? and was it donated to this bank directlyor to a previous bank?

The article has opened up a debate on the DI Dads Yahoo Group regarding the veracity of documentation of issues resulting from the lack of testing of donor sperm.  For many diseases to manifest themselves it would take both the donor and the mother to carry the traits or genes for the disease.  Even if a donor was found to be carrier, who knows if the couple trying to have the children is even aware if the mother might be a carrier as well.

I am not sure how anything can be statistically proven unless more families are encouraged to report live births and/or issues back to their cryobanks or a central registry.   People value their privacy and regulation and legislation are seen as impeding on privacy which is another roadblock to effective reporting of issue beyond simple (or not so simple) testing of the donor at the source. 

Again I offer the article as another resource for issues that should be discussed.  So far the roll of the dice my ex and I took regarding our children has turned out lucky sevens so far.  G-d willing that won't change as they grow older.