FDA investigates ready-made embryo business
High standards set for donorsSaturday
January 13, 2007
By ELIZABETH WHITE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN ANTONIO -- Federal officials are investigating abusiness that produces batches of ready-made embryosand lets prospective parents select one based on thedonors' looks, ethnicity, education and other factors.A consumer safety officer from the Food and DrugAdministration was at Jennalee Ryan's house Fridayduring an interview with the woman who runs theAbraham Center of Life. The officer would not comment.An FDA spokeswoman in Dallas confirmed that the agencyis investigating but would not elaborate. It wasunclear what laws or regulations were the focus of theinvestigation.Ryan's service involves a New York physician who usesdonated eggs and sperm to create embryos that can bebought for $5,000 a pair. Ryan said she allowscustomers to choose embryos after reviewing thedonors' characteristics, including their ethnic andeducational background and, in some cases, theirphotos."Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?" she said.At Ryan's business, sperm donors must have doctorates;egg donors must be young, intelligent and attractive.Egg donors are paid $3,500 by the recipient family butmay be paid extra if they have "earned a postgraduatedegree; have a unique skill, characteristic or trait,"her Web site said. The sperm, which she said cost about $400 per vial,comes from sperm banks.Only one or two women so far have contributed eggs toRyan's project.Ryan, who runs the business out of her home in awell-to-do section of San Antonio, offers already-madeembryos, meaning clients cannot customize theirchoices by eye or hair color. Parents-to-be mustchoose from what Ryan has put together."Anybody off the street can walk into a clinic and doexactly what I'm doing. They can hire an egg donor,they can hire a sperm donor and they can createembryos," she said. "The problem is because I took theegg and the sperm and put them together. Now all of asudden it's Pandora's box."Ryan said she started the center last summer but doesnot hope to profit from it and said she hasn't so far."People say, 'Well, is this ethical to do what you do? Is it moral to do what you do?' " Ryan said. "Is it ethical or moral not to do it when I have the means and ability to do it? Knowing that I can, should I continue listening to women lament that can't have children?"
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