Friday, January 30, 2009

Voilà! Modern Medicine Shows Off

Okay...I am sneaking this post in at work in between DNA extractions and a pile of post-move paperwork because I am simply dying to know. What are some of the opinions floating around out there about the octuplets?

Outrage? (Scientifically speaking) Joy? (The miracle of birth) Astonishment? (What was wrong with six) None of society's damn business? (This one speaks for itself).

I had originally had this as a comment, but I figured I'd move it to my original post...maybe this will get me out of trouble with LaPH. I was cleverly trying to instigate dialog. But she was right, I was cheating a bit as well. :)

The simple answer is I find this to be scientifically irresponsible.

I'm not well versed in IVF. A quote from Wikipedia states, "Embryos are graded by the embryologist based on the number of cells, evenness of growth and degree of fragmentation. The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the woman and other health and diagnostic factors. In countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, a maximum of two embryos are transferred except in unusual circumstances. In the UK and according to HFEA regulations, a woman over 40 may have up to three embryos transferred, whereas in the USA, younger women may have many embryos transferred based on individual fertility diagnosis. Most clinics and country regulatory bodies seek to minimize the risk of pregnancies carrying multiples."

Going off that alone I have two thoughts. (1) The UK, Australia, New Zealand limits make sense to me. Considering the incidence of premature birth that comes from multiples along with the medical issues a two/maybe three egg limit that mimics what tends to occur naturally seems acceptable. (2) Who in the US thought eight was a brilliant idea? I mean either they all fail or only a couple remain viable or all of them remain viable and then you have just stepped into the termination debate.

But hey, at least it wasn't stem cell research.


frau sally benz said...

I'm still rather confused about the whole thing and waiting for more information to come out. My initial reaction is just shock -- why would anybody do this? In this economy, given the fact that she lives with her parents and is (seemingly? so far...) single. I don't get it...

habladora said...

Maus, you cheater - you can't as for an opinion on something like this without giving an opinion yourself. You are, after all, our resident scientist...

habladora said...

Nice addendum, you make a good case. You might not get the heated debate your looking for since most of us do not know much about this proceedure, nor about the various countries'laws. Your post provides a nice introduction.

JollyRoger said...

It's an absolute obscenity, especially in light of cases like that of Natalie Sarkisyan. This inarguably irresponsible wack job gets swag and a trip to Oprah, while Natalie died almost unnoticed because an insurance company wouldn't approve a liver transplant.

I have no doubt that under a single payer system, both of the above stories would be different.

DB said...

Where do I begin? This is outrageous on so many levels. It is ridiculous that a fertility doctor would encourage this behavior when it looks like she can barely provide for the children she has already, let alone eight more. Is it society's business? Sure, if she is expecting to live off tax-funded programs to support her family. I highly doubt this lady will ever let her own selfishness take a backseat to her kids.

Mächtige Maus said...

But what if the fertility doctor didn't encourage this at all. What if he said, "Miss, we have eight embryos left and we are going to plant two of them based on your age and fertility history." And she said, "Hell no I want 'em all!" With not a lot in the way of medical regulations isn't the doctor somewhat bound by the wishes of the patient?

And while it is easy to assume that a single mother living with her parents and now 14 children under the age of 8 will need tax-payer funded program assistance, what if she doesn't need that at all?

That said, I'm interested in a medical perspective here. Medically and scientifically speaking, when is the line drawn? Clearly the human body can carry eight fetuses (albeit with a tremendous physical burden placed on all) and modern medicine has advanced to the point where all eight can be cared for when they are born incredibly premature.

It can be done. The question becomes, should legislation prevent modern medicine from showing off?

:-jon said...

We as a society have to accept it. And prove our civilization by making sure those 14 kids grow up physically & emotionally healthy.

I agree w/ Maus, "isn't the doctor somewhat bound by the wishes of the patient?"

I do not want federal legislation, with a formula for the number of embryos that could be legally transferred. I'll use 'woman's right to control her own body' as justification.

My wife and I went through IVF. We had two embryos transferred, to hedge our bets that we would get at least one child. (I'm reminded our clinic would not have transferred three.) Since we had twins, my wife was in the hospital for 5 weeks, costing our insurance company MUCH more money than had they just covered the transfer of one embryo in IVF.