Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stolen gametes....sounds like baby trafficking to me

So I read on the AmFOR registry today of a woman seeking information regarding an incident almost 20 years ago involving her getting a hysterectomy and the doctor stealing the ovaries and selling least that is what I am inferring from her post.

While I do not have any proof or further information regarding this exact situation, it made me think of what could really be going on illegally in the infertility industry. The industry has been famous for being unethical and pushing lies and deceit. I suppose if we think in this manner, it would not be unusual to believe that this same industry would work in more illegal ways to make money.

The beginnings of donor conception began with deceit and what would likely today be considered illegal -- i.e. performing a procedure on a patient and not informing the patient of what was done. So if that is how the industry was founded, I would not be surprised if they've found new more novel ways of continuing this tradition. A woman goes in for a partial or full hysterectomy. The doctor removes the ovaries, yet instead of simply destroying them (or whatever they do with them after they are removed) he decides he's going to extract the eggs and sell them or use them in his own infertility practice.

This patient, who believes she has simply had a hysterectomy has no clue that her eggs, her biological children, are being implanted in other women.

I know it seems very sci-fi and ridiculous, but take a minute to think about the mentality of the infertility industry....... Do they care about their patients? NO. Do they care about the offspring created? NO. Do they care about the donors and their rights? NO. Do they care about making money? YES. So now the doctor has perfectly good eggs harvested and does not even have to pay the woman for her "services", and he can charge someone outrageous IVF fees to implant them and make even more money!!

They would probably shake it off as that woman was being altruistic (which one cannot be if one does not know of the situation) and that the children will never be told who the donor is so the woman will never know and the social parents will never know, and all's fair in love and war! And everyone is so HAPPY!!!!

I ask my readers: What are your thoughts on this possibility? Do you think it's happening or do you think this is all made up and over the top? What should be the legal implications involving non-consensual gamete donation? Do you think that males could be taken advantage of in the same way?


Anonymous said...

I don't believe it would be possible to culture the ovaries post-surgery long enough to develop usable follicles (and especially not 20 years ago). So, I call BS on technical grounds. That said, IF the technology was workable, do I think someone would do something like this for glory and/or profit. Yes.

Frankly, I am more concerned about technologies to make gametes that aren't related to any living person (by several generations) by serial use of stem cells. It sounds very sci-fi, but is not really quite beyond the reach of existing published results in mice. Of course, such a technology would probably preclude the need for donor gametes under most circumstances, BUT I can imagine scenarios where no other living relative could be exactly what people want.

damianhadams said...

I think the only think that may have been possible 20 years ago would be that they could have harvested an egg or two IF they were suitably mature at the time of harvesting.

However, there is no way of knowing if samples that people have stored for long periods of time don't go "missing".

Lindsay said...


Actually, according to what this woman wrote on AmFOR the doctor informed her that she must be ovulating at the time of the procedure....sounds sort of fishy to me. However, again I have no idea if this is what had happened or not.

I do believe that today, with the technology much more advanced, that they WOULD try something as this.


I agree with you - I think that 20 years ago this seems far-fetched. However, my point is that today such technology exists and there is even more of a need for eggs as more and more women are waiting until they are older to have babies and thus the need for egg donors has gone through the roof.

But yes, artificial gametes are definitely something that concerns me, and disturbs me greatly --- such thoughts make the current debate on post-humous sperm harvesting and subsequent children created with deceased fathers (from conception), seem to be child's play.........


Jennifer said...

Dear Lindsay,

I believe it's totally something a dishonest fertility doctor would do if it were possible. All kinds of fertility "treatments" seem possible, so I wouldn't rule it out.

We seem to be living in a braver, newer world. I'm just not sure if we're living in a better world.


kisarita said...

It would be very hard to remove someone's ovaries discreetly in a hospital settings. An operating room isn't exactly a discreet place. And it would be easily detected afterwards by the sudden menopause and other symptoms. But perhaps he convinced her that it was necessary to remove her ovaries when it really wasn't.
(If they were cancerous, well that adds another whole unethical dimension...)