IVF – A Child Against All Odds (5)

In Gift of life (BBC1, 13th December 2006, TRILT code 005DEE22), attention returns to the issue of egg donation.  Like Karen and Alex in the previous programme Cheating time, Susanna and John travel overseas to buy eggs, on this occasion to Spain.  Susanna has to take a course of hormones to prepare her uterus to receive any embryos.  They discuss the potential emotional difficulties of raising a child that is only genetically related to John (14:30 into episode, and revisited at 27:30).  As it turns out, the issue remains theoretical this time as the pregnancy is not sustained.

Nicola and Stephen need IVF but cannot afford the £3000 fee.  They enter into an agreement to get their treatment free in return for donating half of Nicola’s eggs to another couple, who pay for both procedures.  Nicola enters into the arrangement knowing that it is possible that the she will not get pregnant but that the recipient of her donated eggs may do so (discussed in commentary 13 minutes into programme).  As it is, Nicola successfully conceives and gives birth to a daughter.

Finally, the episode tells the remarkable story of Bonny. Childless after going through a premature menopause, Bonny takes part in a pioneering operation in which she receives an ovary from her fertile twin sister Crystal (tissue from any other woman would be rejected, so this is not a route open to most people).  The procedure is a wonderful success and Bonny subsequently conceives naturally with her husband and also gives birth to a daughter.

There are not many excepts from this episode that would be suitable for teaching in isolation from the whole programme.  however, there is an interesting section from 45:00 to 48:47 in which Robert Winston talks to artist Stuart about the psychological difficulties of being fathered by an unknown sperm donor.  A change in the law means that children born as a result of donated sperm or eggs will have the right to know the identity of the donor when they turn 18.

The BBC website for this episode can be reached from this link.  BioethicsBytes notes on the final episode in the series, Whatever it take, can be found here.

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