So if news comes in threes, here is your third article about infertility this week. Complete with requisite twisting of the facts for maximum frustration by the infertile reader.
The article is about PGD and follows below. With the article in black and my comments in red. Why red? Because I'm so freakin' angry. And yes, Carolyn, this is another reporter who needs an email sent to his inbox explaining how the media has a duty to present--not twist--facts.
Increasingly, Couples Use Embryo Screening
Thursday, September 21, 2006; Page A02
More and more couples are turning to an embryo-screening technique that allows them to choose the genetic makeup of their children, according to a survey released yesterday in the online edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility. (Yes, it allows them. Yes, it is possible. No, that is not the primary way it is being used EXCEPT in cases where you are screening for a disease that runs in a specific sex).
Some (note the extremely scientic word "some") use the test so they can give birth to a child genetically similar to a sick sibling in need of a bone marrow transplant from a matched donor. (How many--give a percentage. Some could be under 1% or some could mean 50%. If this is truly noteworthy, give the specific number of siblings created this way). Others are screening for genetic abnormalities, including some for which the test has not been proved useful. Still others are using it to get a baby of the sex they want. (Again, how many others? How many people have truly gone through IVF and PGD and paid the thousands and endured the treatments in order to get a specific sex of a child that is NOT linked to preventing a genetic illness)
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, starts with the creation of a "test tube" embryo. At the eight-cell stage of development, one cell is removed, apparently (apparently? This is scientific writing?) without causing lasting harm, for testing. Embryos that pass the test are allowed to develop further and are transferred to a woman's womb. Others are frozen or discarded (discarded--with the twist being that they want the reader to believe that perfectly healthy embryos are being discarded).
The survey of 186 U.S. fertility clinics, conducted by the Washington-based Genetics and Public Policy Center, found:
· About 75 percent of fertility clinics now offer PGD.
· About 3,000 PGD screenings were performed in 2005 -- in 5 percent of all in vitro fertilization procedures.
· Sixty-six percent were done to screen out embryos with chromosomal abnormalities that were feared because the mother was older or had a history of in vitro fertilization failure or miscarriage caused by chromosome problems -- even though PGD has not been deemed a reliable test for these problems. (Truly, if it's not reliable at all, why use the technology? Oh, or are you saying that like all things medical, it's not a perfect treatment with 100% reliable results? Sort of like cancer drugs. Works for some people, not for others. So...I guess by your logic, we should throw out everything that's not 100% reliable. All chemo drugs should be dumped out right about now...)
· Forty-two percent of clinics doing PGD offer sex selection, and 9 percent of PGD is for this purpose. (Twist, twist, twist. Yes, sex selection in order to not transfer embryos of a certain sex if that sex is going to be carrying the genetic illness)
· Twenty-four percent of clinics offer PGD to get a match for a sibling in need of a transplant, about 1 percent of all PGD. (Offer it--it's not necessarily utilized. But they offer it. Twisty twister twisterstein).
· Twenty-one percent of PGD clinics were "aware of" errors having been made -- including children born with the problem that was supposed to have been screened out. (Because, as stated before, it's medicine. And medicine is art. And sometimes treatments fail. And sometimes tests fail. And it's a matter of not being able to control all circumstances because you're not operating in a vacuum. And is it an error if it doesn't work? I don't know. If I had cancer and the treatment didn't work for me, I wouldn't call it an error on the medication's part. Or my doctor's part. I would call it the best try. Because medicine is not like other branches of science with highly replicable results).
-- Rick Weiss
Oh...Rick. Ricky. Your article made me so angry this morning. What was its point? To scare the public about the far-reaching possibilities of PGD? To help the public understand the devestating process many couples are going through in order to achieve pregnancy? Where are the articles talking about how scary it is that toxic medications exist that could essentially poison a body? Because when new chemotherapy drugs come onto the market, it's cause for celebration and hope. But when a new fertility technology or mental health drug comes onto the market, it's cause for many articles warning readers about how dangers or unethical nature of these new advances.
Am I pro-PGD? Of course. Is it perfect? No. But show me something in medicine that's perfect, 100% of the time. This is what I can show you--a couple who has endured countless pregnancy losses who is now pregnant due to PGD. And...well...like I borrow from Martha Stewart, it's a good thing.