Thursday, November 05, 2009
While the causes of this can be numerous, apart from leaving things too late, one of the larger causes can be genetic problems. For example microdeletions in the DNA can result in poor sperm formation or low counts. ICSI can solve the problem of not being able to conceive but it does not “really” solve infertility as the person is technically still infertile. The same can be said with maternal problems. These treatments may give a couple the baby they so desperately crave, but it does not cure their infertility.
And when the cause was genetic in the first place, these treatments have just created another person who will also be infertile. But I hear people say that that person can then also go on to have treatment themselves. The problem is that by creating one or more offspring that will already be infertile rather than have it develop through age, lifestyle factors, disease, environment (the list goes on), we are increasing the proportion of people in the population who are infertile. So rather than treating and ameliorating infertility all we are really doing is exacerbating the problem and thereby increasing the burden on an already strained public health system that subsidises these treatments.
For fertility clinics it is a fantastic way of ensuring you will have customers in the future. Not a bad business model indeed.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
So should these people be allowed to use reproductive technologies to conceive a child in this way? After all, both biological parents wanted it. The child will be dearly loved. What else is there?
Once again we need to put on our child eyed goggles and have a think what it might be like to be created this way. Knowing that your father or mother was already deceased before you were even conceived may be psychologically damaging to this child. Maybe not while growing up but it may manifest later in life. We know that some DC offspring have issues with being created “artificially”, so we can assume that some of these children may have issues with this too.
While some of the other issues surrounding donor-conception, such as anonymity, knowledge of your progenitor, identity and family health history are addressed in this scenario. The one issue that it fails to skirt around is that a child would be deliberately brought into the world without any possibility of having a relationship with one of their parents. This deprivation has been recognised to be harmful in the adoption community and as a society we recognise that both a mother and father are important to a child’s welfare. Are we once again putting the desires of adults above the welfare and needs of children?
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
It is basically to work out where your y chromosome originated from.
My result is R1b1b2a1b5 (or shorthand R-L21+ due to the marker that returned positive).
Does not look like much but this haplogroup has its origins in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
So know when people say that I look Celtic I can confirm that my ancestors were indeed Celtic.
As for using this information to identify a potential father;
I could use this info to narrow down the medical student names to those that are of Irish, Scottish or Welsh descent. Although problems could arrise if there was any infidelity in these families. Or if they had migrated hundreds of years ago to somewhere else in europe before coming to Australia and subsequently their name may have changed somewhat in these other locales.
BUT it does give me something else to work with and it gives me a sense of belonging to a region.
While I do not have a definitive result of a more specific region or ethnicity (which is nearly impossible anyway) I am pretty happy about this result.
I have something more tangible than I had previously.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
These figures only show new donors and do not account for existing donors that may still be donating their gametes. We must bear in mind that donor anonymity ended in the UK in April 2005. Since that time the number of new sperm donors has gone from 250 to 384 in 2008. While egg donations (which has typically been associated with greater levels of altruism and less of a concern of anonymity), has gone from 923 (2005) to 1084 (2008), albeit with a drop in numbers during 2006. What the graph and figures show is that while the donor numbers can rise and fall over time, that since 2005 when anonymity ended, that the numbers of donors have increased and not decreased as we are made to believe by the lies that are perpetuated by some clinicians/clinics and the media at large that the removal of anonymity will cause a dearth of available procreative material for the needy.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
But let us look more closely at this gift and the nature of gametes. Gametes contain half of the genetic information of its progenitor. This information governs your physiological features, it controls to a large extent your health and longevity, it also has a very strong component in influencing your behaviour and as strange as it may seem interests. So just from this we can see that a huge component of our lives is directly influenced by our father and our mother irrespective of who raises us. These are strings that connect us to our progenitors whether we like it or not.
We reproduce to transfer our own DNA into the next generation - to continue our line. And while many will procreate for the joy that it may bring which is the humanisation of having a child/family, it is resource expensive to do so. It uses up an incredible amount of time, money and effort to raise one child and is contrary to being a selfish individual that is only concerned with their own wealth (monetary, time etc). It is actually our DNA that is being selfish. The only way that it can continue to exist is for it to continue into following generations.
I have heard of many people state that it is a biological imperative for them to have children. Actually it is not, because their lives from a health and monetary perspective, is adversely affected by having children – they are a strain (a rather enjoyable strain at that). It is however, a biological imperative for their own selfish DNA that they procreate and pass on their genes.
What make us human as opposed to just animals is our complex family structures, our behaviours, feelings, culture and heritage. These family structures have, ever since man began (whether you believe in creation or evolution), been composed primarily of blood relations. Our culture and our heritage are birth rights that can only be transferred by those of blood, through our genes, through our paternity and maternity.
In essence it is not just a little piece of genetic material that has been transferred to a commissioning couple, it is anything but. It encodes and transfers to the next generation many of the features that make us human. This transference contains an undeniable and very significant link to the person it is derived from.
Monday, June 08, 2009
The genetic genealogy test in regards to paternity works by following the Y-chromosome through the generations, as such, finding more information on your genetic donor father and your heritage through that part of your family tree is only possible for male offspring. Unfortunately female offspring are unable to do this. However, if they are a product of donated eggs they (as well as male offspring) could potentially follow the maternal side of their family tree through mitochondrial DNA testing which follows the maternal line. Both tests implement the premise that both the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA are highly conserved and do not change when passed onto the next generation. Small changes do occur occasionally due to mutations and is the reason why we can then see who is closely related to each other through their DNA and why most people are related to each other if we go back far enough in history.
I purchased the Y-DNA 37 markers test from the option of 12, 37 and 67 markers on the recommendation of FTDNA with the theory being that 12 markers are not specific enough to verify a relation whereas 67 were supposedly too specific and that a certain degree of ambiguity is desirable when a person has no knowledge of their heritage or a genetically inherited family name (eg. adoptees and donor conceived).
These markers are assigned DYS (DNA Y-chromosome segment) numbers and a numerical value is returned based on which mutation has been detected in the test by looking for Y-STRs (short tandem repeats). It is these numbers which are used to match yourself with others that are related. From my results, FTDNA matched me perfectly to 4 other individuals at the 12 marker level, and to 2 others at a genetic distance of 2 at the 25 marker level. The genetic distance is a measure of how many markers are different and by what degree they are different. This was within the FTDNA database, however, it is possible to put you values into a wider database such as Y-SEARCH which allows people who have been tested by other companies to put their values online and to search for matches. The advantage of a database such as this is that it can be considerably larger and it allows you to conduct more thorough searches by changing the parameters to which matches are made which is not possible on the FTDNA site and subsequently, people that can be related could be excluded from being shown to you through the FTDNA results. Putting my marker values in Y-SEARCH allowed me to match to several individuals at more than 30 markers with a relatively small genetic distance. While it may at one level be beneficial to keep some level of ambiguity in your testing for those of unknown paternity. It can also create other problems in that by not being specific enough to confirm a close relation. From 37 marker results it is possible that someone that may appear close is actually quite distant at the 67 marker level, and conversely someone who may not initially appear as the main person of interest at 37 markers may be considerably close at the 67 marker level.
In addition to the marker values and possible matches that are obtained through such testing, a haplogroup can be assigned to your results. This haplogroup basically describes a part of the population that originates from a common ancestor through the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). As such depending on what haplogroup may be assigned to you, the region from which your paternal line comes from can be pinpointed or narrowed down. For example my haplogroup is most closely associated with the British Isles and Western Europe. This haplogroup can be defined to a greater level through Deep Clade testing which then has the possibility of further refining your ancestral origins to a region within these areas. My haplogroup assignment is also supported by the greatest number of matches I had of certain markers which define recent common ancestor origins to the areas of England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany.
So how do these results affect my knowledge of my heritage and my quest to find my genetic father?
In several ways;
First the matches that I have been able to make provide a basis to conduct further research. For those in the databases that have selected to allow their contact details to be accessible, they can be contacted and research can be conducted on their family history to see if there is a possibility of a closer link.
Secondly, the surnames (and their derivatives) that can come back as matches can be used by donor offspring to cross-reference with in my case names of medical and science graduates which comprised the donor pool at that time as possible avenues of enquiry.
Thirdly, any haplogroup assignment could also help narrow down the name pool of potential donors from the aforementioned donor pool based on certain family names originating from certain areas of the world.
The use of such testing has been used successfully previously with one donor offspring in the USA finding their genetic father by matching up with a close relative. There are also other companies which conduct health analysis of DNA. These tests analyse a person’s potential susceptibility to certain illnesses based on genetic links with these diseases.
The thing that must be noted is that any genetic genealogy result obtained is dependent on a close or distant relation also having undergone testing. While currently the greatest population of people undergoing such testing live in the USA, the British Isles and Western Europe, with more and more people being tested everyday, for those that may not get closer to discovering their heritage or even their paternity initially, eventually they may get there given time.
While I cannot show here the results of any matches as enquiries are ongoing, they have not excluded any of the information and lines of enquiry that I had obtained through other means before undergoing genetic testing. In regard to further genetic testing I may in the near future increase the number of markers to narrow down some of the potential matches if the line of enquiry deems that it would be of benefit. A further refinement of the haplogroup assignment by Deep Clade testing may also assist in this and will be assessed on its necessity as required. A full DNA “health” analysis is something that I will undertake to fill in the gaps of a family health history that I am missing. While genetic genealogy testing and DNA health analysis may not give to me the genetic father that has been missing in my life, it has the potential to provide for not just myself but also to my children a picture of our heritage (the origin of my paternity by region) but also a family health history which will be just as important to them as me.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I would like to see if Cheryl has any data (hard evidence) to support her assumption. I provided published data while she has made an assertion based on anecdotal evidence and a media beat-up of a story.
Here is Cheryl Miller's response to my rebuttal:
I agree with Damian Adams that the reasons for gamete donor shortages in Europe and Australia are complex. While bans on anonymity have played a role, so have laws limiting or prohibiting compensation to gamete donors (which many donor-conceived activists support) and donors’ growing fears that clinics cannot guarantee their anonymity. (Many donors were spooked when New Scientist reported in 2005 that a 15-year-old boy had found his anonymous sperm donor through a genealogy website.) Nonetheless, countries that permit donor anonymity—such as the U.S. and Spain—have not experienced shortages and are major destinations for fertility patients seeking a donor.
These would-be parents’ desire for children is hardly a “whim.” Donor offspring are right to fight for greater openness, but openness should not be their only goal. Indeed, as I noted in my article, the right to information does not necessarily lead to greater openness. A mandated registry might win offspring the right to know their donor’s identity, but if it means future parents are less willing to disclose their children’s status, it won’t be much of a victory.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A new documentary called "Who Am I" is currently being researched by the people at Juggernaut Media. They are currently calling for interested donor conceived offspring from around the world that may be interested in telling their story. The difference between this documentary and all of the previous ones associated with DC is that this one is to be presented from the perspective of the conceived people themselves. This is very exciting and will make for ground breaking television in this field. The following is an advertisement calling for interest in this project:
WHO AM I?
How do you define identity? What role, if any, has genetics played in shaping the person you are today?
We’re SEEKING DONOR OFFSPRING to participate in an international high end documentary series on Assisted Reproductive Technology and the link between biological and genetic history and identity. What makes this documentary series unique is that it is told through the eyes of the offspring conceived through ART; your EYES.
We want to hear your stories; your perspectives; your insights into the impact of the technology that helped bring you into this world and your vision for the future.
WHO ARE WE?
Please allow us to introduce ourselves:
Tammi Michelle Faraday is a Television, Feature Film & Documentary Producer, Investigative journalist, Human Rights Lobbyist, Television Presenter, Broadcaster, and one time Senior Associate of an international law firm. Tammi recently returned to Australia after being based in London for two years working as a producer on critically acclaimed and award winning feature films and feature length documentaries for the BBC (UK), WGBH (United States), SBS (Australia) and Channel 2 (Israel). These include: "The Insurgency” (a BBC/WGBH feature length documentary about the Iraqi insurgency); “The Nuclear Wal-Mart" (a BBC Panorama investigation about the private international nuclear network); “Yitzchak Rabin - Case Unclosed" (a groundbreaking documentary on the late Prime Minister of Israel); “Rape on Trial" (a BBC Panorama investigation about rape and the criminal justice system in the UK) and the multi award winning feature film in Australia, “Wil".
In 2008 Tammi launched her international film production, media and communications company - Juggernaut Media Management.
Ros Tatarka is an established producer with an extensive track record primarily in television production. In her early career Ros worked on some of Australia’s most iconic television dramas including Prisoner, Neighbours and A Country Practice. She later went on to Associate Produce the mini-series Snowy and the first nine telemovies of the successful Halifaxfp franchise. As Producer her credits include the first series of Something In the Air, and the telemovie and first series of Good Guys Bad Guys, for which she won an AFI Award.
Ros was most recently engaged as the General Manager, Industry Development and Investment at the State Government Agency, Film Victoria. In this role, Ros headed up the business unit responsible for stimulating and supporting growth and excellence in the Victorian screen industry.
In 2008 Ros returned to the independent sector and through her production company, CreatEve Pty Ltd, is developing a slate of projects including feature film, television drama, documentary and new media.
For further information please contact Tammi Faraday on + 61 (0)401 952 962 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Ros Tatarka on either +61 (0)411 567 556 or email@example.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
What do we know as fact? That record keeping and making in the early seventies in the hospitals were excellent. Everything that could be recorded was recorded and the records were kept. This is clinical best practice that allows for medicine to be practiced with the greatest care on the day and also in the future as we are to track down causation and effect events to improve subsequent treatment. An example of this is the post-natal treatment records for most children and mothers of the day which are large enough to fill their own small book. In regard to donor conception records, the only documents that have been provided are those contained on small pieces of paper with a paucity of information and the volume of which wouldn’t even be enough to fill up your back pocket.
What we don’t know. Are these poor DC treatment records the only records in existence? The clinics and practitioners of the time have been constantly changing their story in regard to these records, they were destroyed, they are lost, records weren’t kept or we do not have anything to link the treatment records to the donor records. Numerous doctors that I have spoken to who have been involved in the hospitals at the time find it hard to believe that either poor records were kept or that they have been destroyed as it does not follow the practice of the day. For argument’s sake we will assume that the clinics are being honest to an extent and that these small pieces of paper are the only records that have ever existed (provided that they haven’t been destroyed or lost) and that they are unable to link these to any donor records that may or may not exist. Why would the clinic go strictly against best clinical practices in not creating and keeping appropriate detailed records? It goes directly against everything doctors and nurses are taught from day one of their training.
While these clinics were operating in a hospital environment and in a clinical setting, the early seventies represent donor conception in its infancy here in SA and we could perhaps assume that they were operating more as a research facility undertaking experiments in medical and social science. As a scientist myself, I know for a fact that any research that is conducted now and in the past must be appropriately documented so that experiments can be verified and repeated as required. So what we have is a scenario in which the documentation that was being made within donor conception falling outside the accepted norm within either the medical or scientific fields. For something that was so important and supposedly ground breaking it is mind boggling to think that inappropriate documentation occurred.
If these practitioners and clinics were so lazy as to not create appropriate documentation then it is difficult to see how they could have gotten into those positions in the first place or how they were then able to carry on in the field for such a long time thereafter all the while receiving accolades after accolades. This is where we fall into the realm of conjecture. If we do not wish to follow the practices of the day and do not want to be able to go back over what was done, how, when and why to improve things in the future, we either have to be completely incompetent or we have to be hiding something. As mentioned previously, these practitioners and clinics either already were or they went on to be very successful, so they are definitely not incompetent. Is it possible to assume that it was intentionally done, to reinforce anonymity? That if there are incomplete or poor records then there is no way that the identity of the donor/vendor can ever be found out. And if they were worried about anonymity then they knew that it may become an issue for offspring in the future who would then seek out this information.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Whose Your Daddy?
It has subsequently been published by ReasonOnline here.
I am certainly not against anyone having differing views to myself. After all that is what society is all about. However, when the whole premise of the arguement is based on error riddled information the value of such a perspective is lost. And unfortunately for those who do not know any better they would believe that the premise is based on fact, which it is not, and is a shame.
The following letter contains factual information that is contrary to the erroneous claims made by yourself in your article “Whose Your Daddy?”
While many adult donor-conceived people are upset at the lack of forethought given to their emotions and thoughts on the issue in regard to the subject matter, the purpose of this letter is not to delve into these issues which some people may classify as debatable, but to correct the erroneous claims in a scholarly manner.
“In Europe and Australia, national governments created mandatory, centralized registries that activists succeeded in opening to the public, eliminating the possibility of anonymous donation. The result: Donors ceased to come forward in adequate numbers, and the waiting lists for sperm and ova have grown very long.”
Clinics will often parade these lines out in a scaremongering propaganda campaign to garner sympathy and to attract more donors but it is rarely based on fact. Numbers of donors for the vast majority of places around the world had been dropping for many years prior to any suggestion of the removal of anonymity and the creation of any registry. This is not a new phenomenon, however, the clinics would like us to believe that this is the case. A prime example is South Australia which is one of the only places in the world to actually have legislation that guarantees anonymity. This legislation was initially enacted in 1988, yet the numbers of donors have steadily decreased. This is the exact antithesis of your claim. If your claim as the removal of anonymity as being the major source of donor shortage then surely South Australia would have more than enough donors. Victoria, another state in Australia which has the most progressive legislation in the world on donor conception had an increase in donors the year after they banned anonymous donations and set-up a centralized register. Two clinics in the UK since starting an active recruitment campaign shortened their waiting period effectively to zero (an increase in donor numbers). The others that complained of shortages never took part in active recruitment. In New Zealand, their donor numbers also increased after anonymous donations were voluntarily withdrawn by the NZ clinics.
As you can see there are numerous examples that show that removal of anonymity and the establishment of registers does not necessarily equate to a reduction in donor numbers.
The reduction of donor numbers can equally be explained by the attitudes of men in that time as opposed to any restrictions placed on them.
“Since 1995 offspring have been able to find siblings through the U.K. DonorLink, a voluntary registry funded by the Department of Health.”
UK DonorLink was not in operation in 1995, it only came online in 2004.
“A recent U.K. government report found that the number of insemination treatments fell by about 30 percent in 2006, despite a small increase in sperm donors.”
The number of donor insemination treatments fell so drastically for couples due to the prominence of ICSI treatment. The lack of available donor samples is currently due to the newer trend of single-mothers-by-choice and lesbian groups.
“Many Europeans thought that by mandating a registry and banning donor anonymity they had solved the problem of offspring not having information about their biological parents. They soon found, though, that parents were getting around the ban by simply not telling their children about the circumstances of their conception.”
This is not new. This was THE practice for the majority of donor conception practices around the world until only recently. It has always been a practice that has been shrouded in secrecy and deception, patients were actively counselled not to tell the children.
“The program, started in 1983 by The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC), releases a donor’s identity to his offspring when the child turns 18. Scheib, along with the sperm bank staff, expected that most offspring would want to meet their donors, but few of the eligible offspring have chosen to.”
That would be obvious as the vast majority do not even know that they are even donor conceived. Your own article even states that in Sweden only 10% of offspring were told. Here in Australia a study showed that only 30% intended to tell – fewer ever do. A study by Golombok (1996) undertaken in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Italy of 111 families using ART, 75% said they had no plans on telling. In New Zealand, 30% had told of 181 parents (Adair 1999), although many more said they intended to tell. In the UK 39% had or intended to tell while 61% did not. (Lycett 2005). In another study 85% of DI parents and 69% of OD parents, there was the belief that there was no need for the child to know (Murray 2000.) So the trend is definately not to inform the children and therefore it makes it difficult to seek answers to questions that you do not know exist. This paragraph of your article is misleading as it makes the assumption that the majority of offspring do not want identifying information. It is completely false as the research conducted by Mahlstedt et al to be published in Sterility and Fertility (accepted) shows that 87% of adult donor offspring wish to know the identity of their father, while 62% wanted to at least meet him once and 26% wanted to establish a relationship with him. So for the vast majority, paternal kinship is a very vital and important component of their lives that cannot be ameliorated by a simple medical file.
Your article leads the reader on a journey whereby the conclusion that infertile couples are being denied the chance to procure a child through a financial transaction is being hampered by the rights and desires of the offspring already created in this manner. Yet the data that you have used to support this claim, that of donor numbers dropping due to the removal of anonymity and the creation of registers (which for the vast majority there are no centralized registers accessible to offspring as yet, unless you are a Great Britain or Victorian and then only if you are born after a certain date) is not supported in fact. This claim is misleading and erroneous at best.
edited post: Someone asked about the study conducted in Australia, it apparently was conducted in the 80's at Prince Henry's Hospital treatment centre which then became Monash IVF. As I have been unable to locate it online as evidence I have included other studies that can be traced as further evidence of the trend not to tell all around the world.