CONCEPTION: the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism.
This clinical definition probably had a very physical reality when you were conceived.
Maybe you were created on mum and dad’s old feather bed? Maybe in the back seat of a car?
Today there is an increasing chance the baby you see in a stroller at the supermarket was created at an IVF clinic on the Sunshine Coast.
A lot has changed since the world’s first test tube baby, Louise Joy Brown was born on July 25, 1978, nearly 34 years ago.
The British birth was heralded by some as a miracle and others, including the Vatican, as something to be feared.
But with the science firmly established, demand has sky-rocketed, not just for couples struggling to conceive.
Same-sex couples, singles and post-menopausal woman have all accessed this technology to help create their own special “little miracle”.
In 2010, it was estimated four million people worldwide were born using IVF.
While IVF has increasingly become a routine procedure, a certain amount of controversy remains, particularly around the anonymous donation of sperm.
The latest is the small, but real risk, of two young people falling in love and only discovering after their child has been born with a defect that they are closely related.
IVF Australia has established a new register called Donor Siblinks to help donor-conceived children check their genetic links.
But access to the program is only available to children born at an IVF Australia clinic and joining the program is voluntary.
Adding to the complication is that a large number of donor babies were created using American sperm.
IVF Sunshine Coast clinical director Dr James Moir said his clinic relied solely on sperm from America.
“We had problems recruiting donors from Australia fullstop really,” Dr Moir said.
Couples have had two options – access their own known donor or use “anonymous donor sperm access through our clinic in Brisbane, which comes from America.”
Dr Moir said this had an advantage as “it would limit the chance of any sort of close relative problem”.
Nambour’s Fertility Solutions director and unit manager Denise Donati strongly disagreed with the practice.
She said presentations at the 14th World Congress on Human Reproduction, held in Melbourne last November, were also not supportive.
“Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Register in America, from where some of the donor sperm is imported to Australia, says that some sperm banks in America treated donor families unethically and that it is time to consider new legislation,” Ms Donati said.
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