In what is considered a world first, Melanie Boivin has donated her eggs to her daughter who is sterile because of a genetic condition called Turner’s syndrome.
The Montreal lawyer’s eggs are to be frozen until her seven-year-old daughter, Flavie, becomes of age to bear a child through in-vitro fertilization.
If she chooses to become pregnant, Flavie will be giving birth to her genetic sister and Boivin will simultaneously become mother and grandmother.
Some ethicists are calling the scenario a frightening “scrambling” of generations. For Boivin, however, the donation was an act of love.
“If my child had needed a kidney I would have given her one and no one would have questioned it. In this case it’s a gamete,” Boivin said Tuesday.
When Flavie failed to grow normally, doctors discovered she had a genetic disorder that occurs in about one of 2,000 live births.
Instead of the usual pair of chromosomes, those with Turner’s syndrome have an incomplete X chromosome or lack one altogether and are born without eggs. Sterility is a consequence.
Boivin approached the McGill University Health Centre last year after attending a conference in Ottawa on fertility options for Turner’s syndrome.
Seang Lin Tan, director of the McGill Reproductive Centre at the MUHC, who two years ago spearheaded an egg-freezing program for cancer patients, took Boivin as a patient.
The issue of mother to daughter donation is ethically contentious, Tan conceded.
“I put it up to the ethics committee for special clinical consideration,” Tan said.
“The reality is that by the time (the child) thinks of doing this, say in 20 years from now, society’s attitude will be different.”
But ethicist Margaret Somerville said reproductive technologies fail to take into account the consent of the unborn child.
“We have to think about what we are doing when we are running around nature,” Somerville said. “Giving birth to your own sister completely screws up the normal transition of life.”
This is a mom thing to do everything you can to ensure that your child will someday experience life like other women.
I can see why there is so much concern about the ethical nature of carrying your own brother/sister. I don’t think our society is at a place to accept it…even though the gesture comes from a VERY good place.
At the end of the day, no matter she does, any child she carries will not be hers so…why wouldn’t you just get an egg from a doner who has been proven to not have any health issues and then remove the chances of scrutiny from others for years to come?