ENG 105 Hybrid, College Composition I
Ms. Lyn Sabino
Stem Cell Research With Human Embryos
In vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles often include ovarian stimulation to produce multiple mature oocytes and, therefore, multiple embryos for transfer, although often only 1 to 2 are used, but never more than 4. Cryopreservation can increase a patients chance to have other IVF procedures in the future. However, patients who have completed their families must decide what to do with the embryos and deal with moral, ethical, religious, and personal implications of their decision (Hammond, 2009, p. 9). Even under the best circumstances the process can be stressful. Patients can continue to store embryos for future use or just until they decide what they want to do with them in the future. Patients may choose to donate to research or to other infertile couples. An IVF program may allow donation to facilitate training of laboratory technicians and embryologists. Or patients may wish to thaw and dispose of the embryos on their own.
In vitro- Latin for “in glass” fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves monitoring a woman's ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. Sometimes when using IVF, intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used; where a sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell. This is used when sperm have difficulty penetrating the egg, and in these cases the partner's or a donor's sperm may be used. ICSI is also used when sperm numbers are very low. “The sperm and the egg are incubated together at a ratio of about 75,000:1 in the culture media for about 18 hours” (The ISMAAR proposal on terminology for ovarian stimulation for IVF. [The ISMAAR ], 2007). In most cases, the egg will be fertilized by that time and the fertilized egg will show two pronuclei. Typically, embryos are cultured until having reached the 6 to 8 cell stage three days after retrieval. The embryos judged to be the "best" are transferred to the patient's uterus through a thin, plastic catheter, which goes through her vagina and cervix. Several embryos may be passed into the uterus to improve chances of implantation and pregnancy (The ISMAAR proposal on terminology for ovarian stimulation for IVF. [The ISMAAR ], 2007).
So then there is the question of what to do with the leftover embryos? Some patients decide to cryopreserve them for later reproductive use. Some patients feel they have completed their family and must decide what to do with the leftover embryos and deal with the moral, ethical and religious implications of their decisions. They may decide to anonymously donate the embryos to another infertile couple. This is a great decision for couples who have a hard time donating to research or having them destroyed. But then there is the fact that they might have a biological child in the world that they know nothing about and the fact that they may come knocking on your door one day to say “Hello, I think I’m your child.” It really is no different than adoption; even though it’s an anonymous donation somehow people seem to be able to seek out their “birth parents.” FDA regulations require that all records for embryo donors and recipients be maintained for a minimum of 10 years. Donors must waive all parental rights before the recipients of the embryo assume legal ownership or custody; although the process is not considered to be legal ownership or custody. The process is not considered to be a legal adoption, because American law does not treat embryos as children (American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Published by…