I was bowled over when I read about a family in Utah whose life was turned upside down after using a home genetics kit (see below). They discovered that John Branum was not the biological father of Annie Branum. Instead he was Tom Lippert, a disgraced lawyer working at a fertility clinic linked to the University of Utah where Pamela Branum had artificial insemination in 1991.
“Disgraced” is a polite way of saying that Lippert died of alcoholism and that he had served two years of a six-year sentence for the lurid kidnapping of a coed in 1975. He tried to brainwash her into falling in love with him. In short, he was both kinky and a fruitcake.
It turns out that Mr Lippert not only prepared, labelled and shipped "samples" around the country, he had also been a frequent donor at the clinic. Behind his desk were photos of the clinic’s “success stories”. Mrs Branum now suspects that it could have been his bragging board. Why not? Mr Lippert was a very, very strange man.
However, a committee has produced a report for the University of Utah which says that it would be unethical to attempt to notify couples of Tom Lippert’s possible handiwork. It would upset people too much, it is unlikely to uncover more wrong-doing, it is very difficult, a dog ate the paperwork, it would breach privacy agreements, it’s not the University’s fault anyway, no one has been hurt, things are different nowadays and so on.
These arguments don’t convince the Branums and they don’t convince me. IVF must be the only industry in the world which can get away with excuses like that after catastrophic systemic failure. The one essential thing IVF clinics promise is the right baby. But they won’t test to ensure delivery. And if they fail, they won’t investigate the scope of the disaster for fear of hurting people’s feelings. If GM could play by those rules, would it be in bankruptcy court now?
|This week in BioEdge|
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014A botched execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday has revived the debate over the death penalty in the United States
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014An investigation at the University of Utah is testing the presumption that IVF clinics are delivering babies who are the biological children of their clients.
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014Interest in using stem cells from cloned human embryos has revived after success by scientists in the United States and Korea.
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014A paediatrician at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, in New York, has published a blistering rebuttal of surrogacy.
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014The case of Davide Vannoni, head of the stem cell therapy company Stamina Foundation, is turning into an election issue.
by Michael Cook | May 04, 2014A junior bioethics scholar has vented her frustration about her job search in the bioethics.net blog.
by Xavier Symons | May 02, 2014The UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists has barred doctors and nurses from qualifications if they refuse to prescribe or administer contraceptives to patients.
by Xavier Symons | May 02, 2014Urologist and Dying with Dignity Victoria vice-president Dr. Robert Syme has publicly admitted to giving nembutal to man dying from cancer.
by Xavier Symons | May 02, 2014Experts are seriously alarmed at a new clinical experimentation bill due to go before the UK parliament. The bill is intended to protect doctors from…
by Xavier Symons | May 02, 2014Nobel prize winner Shinya Yamanaka has apologized for failing to archive lab data, after allegations that he doctored a photo in a 2000 paper.
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