John T. Gill, chairman of the Texas Healthcare Task Force, and Texas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions are promoting embryonic stem cell research by telling everyone they can, including members of Congress, that egg harvesting from women is “a simple, minimally invasive procedure.”
One wonders, however, if these southern gentlemen would still believe egg extraction was “minimally invasive” if it was done to men?
Here’s what that would require: first male donors would inject themselves with hormones daily to shut down testicular function. Then they would shift to daily injections of a different hormone that would cause their testicular function to go into warp speed and their testes to swell to abnormal size.
These daily injections would prepare the men to undergo surgical procedures with anesthesia whereby catheters with needles at the end would be inserted into the testes to remove large quantities of sperm. After extraction, about 5 percent of the men would suffer side effects ranging from infection, to future fertility damage, to death.
One could forgive any man reading this far for cringing, but the above description is almost exactly what egg-donation proponents are asking our young women to do in order to get eggs to be cloned for stem cell research, not just to make babies.
Who is the anonymous female egg donor? She is the woman targeted and courted on virtually every college campus – like Calla Papademas, the 22-year-old Stanford student who suffered a stroke after answering an egg donor ad offering $15,000.
She is the poor woman trying to make ends meet – like Alina Netedu in Bucharest, the 19-year-old factory worker who lost her fertility selling her eggs to pay for her wedding.
She is one of countless others who are being told it is their civic duty to give some eggs for the cause.
What does this simple, minimally invasive procedure entail? Daily injections of powerful hormones, over about a month, to shut down the ovaries and then hyperstimulate them.
Normally women ovulate an egg or two each month. However, if we can trick the ovary and manipulate it, we can get more than a dozen eggs in one cycle. One egg donor commented to me, “My egg broker loved me, as I was easy to stimulate.”
Following this hormonal injection regime, the woman’s body is ready for the retrieval process. Anesthesia is administered so that a catheter with a needle at the end can be inserted into the vagina. The ovary is punctured, the eggs removed.
Simple and minimally invasive? Risks associated with ovarian stimulation, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, can cause stroke, organ failure, even death. Risks increase with anesthesia and needle aspiration of the eggs from the ovaries which can cause internal bleeding.
Sadly, Dr. Gill and Mr. Sessions have not been following the positive trends and changes in fertility medical practice that are minimizing ovarian stimulation for infertile women. What else could explain why they continue to promote risky stimulation in donors to acquire eggs for unproven research? With so much at stake, ignorance of the medical facts is no excuse.