Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Using PGD to select gender

A few years ago, a law was passed in Israel, allowing couples to apply for permission to use PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a method in which genetic testing is done on an embryo prior to transferring it to the uterus) in order to select a specific gender. The criteria included having 4 or more children of the same gender and that having an additional child of the same gender would put significant stress either on the parents or on the child who was born. A panel that includes doctors, a psychologist, a person representing religious aspects, etc. meet with the couple to hear their story and make the decision.

I just read this article (using the translate function works OK, not great)... and found this part fascinating (adapted from the Google translation): In some cases, the committee has approved ultra-Orthodox religious families' choice to have a daughter. This is in cases in which the family is either Cohen or Levi and the couple requires sperm donation in order to have a child. In this case, the parents are concerned that once the child reaches the age of bar mitzvah, they will not be able to let him have an aliyah* as a Cohen or Levi & will have to disclose the fact that he was born as a result of sperm donation to the community. These couples would rather have no children than risk the birth of a son... There's still one issue that it doesn't solve - that of a Pidyon HaBen - because a daughter of a Cohen wouldn't have to have one for her son... (so a girl born as a result of sperm donation would be required to have a Pidyon HaBen for her son, but wouldn't know that she should.) I wonder how they solve that problem - especially since that too is a public ceremony. Perhaps they spend the first 20 years of her life praying that her firstborn is a girl**...

*Aliyah - the honor of being called up to participate in the reading of the Torah in the synagogue
**By age 20, many ultra-Orthodox girls are married and become mothers

Dee updated: Dee's RE called today to say that in addition to the 2 embryos they transferred, they've got an amazing blastocyst that they just have to transfer too. (I've never heard of two transfers during the same cycle - must be something more recent than my experience.) I don't know what her choice will be... (I think I would have gone for it :-))

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dee Update

Dee had her first IVF last week. They retrieved 16 eggs, ALL of which fertilized. 1 stopped developing & the 'best' 2 were transferred. The two week wait has begun...

Something unrelated... someone was diagnosing our passion fruit plant. "It's barren," she said. Another asked, "How can you tell if it's barren?". Her response, "You see if there's any fruit on it, and if there are only flowers and no fruit, it's barren."

So glad she didn't become a doctor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sperm motility improved by light waves

In the past, I received a boatload of spam comments indicating that due to the light that embryos are exposed to during the process of IVF, they are significantly harmed. I must say that I didn't read these thoroughly (and assume most were from the same person or organization, since they seemed to originate from India) and wasn't really worried about it since my three IVF children appear to be perfectly normal... What brought back this memory was an article I read in this morning's Haaretz about the ability of visible light waves to significantly improve sperm motility. Researchers from Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba and Bar Ilan University examined sperm motility using a CASA (computer aided semen analysis) device. They exposed the semen to lightwave radiation for three minutes and found that at specific wavelengths (400-700 nanometers) sperm motility improved.

Prof. Adrian Shulman said that if these findings are confirmed in additional studies, it has the ability to improve the results of couples with male factor infertility. The article implies that in fact, in borderline cases, it may eliminate the need to perform ICSI, a more expensive and delicate procedure (which does have very high success rates). They mention current success rates at around 90% - and my guess is that some of the non-successful treatments involve azoospermia (no sperm found), so it would be interesting to hear for exactly what cases this holds promise...

The full article appears here. (The 2nd half of the article looks like random information about IVF in Israel and male factor infertility in general, and is not part of the results they're presenting.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Moving on to IVF

Not me. I'm done :-) I'm referring to the woman who I've been telling you about - I'll call her Dee. Quick recap: Dee's turning 40 in the next few months and has decided to go ahead and have a baby with a homosexual couple. They've had 4 failed IUIs so far and are on their first IVF cycle.

Dee's mom describes her and the baby's father as 'best friends' or even soulmates... They spend a lot of time together, hang out together and are even going on a trip together sometime this summer.

I wonder what will happen if she isn't successful. Will they stay in touch? Will he look for someone else to be the mother of his baby? And what happens if she is - do babies necessarily bring conflict with them? Or is there a certain age a baby reaches that increases the conflict (when you have to make important decisions)? Or perhaps if two people really respect each other they can work things out... I wonder if it is easier or more difficult than being married to each other...