I’ve just come back from seeing my GP in the vain hope there may be something on my file about my conception. They are going to look through the old paper records but think it more likely that if there is anything it will be on my mother’s records. This is unlikely since my conception was arranged privately and Reynold Boyd’s son, Nicholas Boyd, apparently put all the records in a skip. Probably sums up the practitioners’ attitude towards their end product!
I need to know whether there is any genetic information I can pass on to my children. For example after I had breast cancer my GP kindly spent time talking to my daughter about the likelihood of her contracting this disease. Unfortunately, of course, I had supplied my GP with totally incorrect family data so she based her conversation with my daughter on the fact that there was no other breast cancer in the family. My GP is going to research whether or not there was in fact a genetic factor so that my daughter, at least, will be better informed than I have been.
I have had medical personnel in the past saying how ‘unlucky’ I have been in not only having breast cancer but also mantle cell lymphoma. I am now wondering whether this is just bad luck. Mantle cell lymphoma is rare in men but even rarer in women. Is my bad luck due to environmental factors, my genetics or epigenetics?
I am a non-smoker with a healthy lifestyle. I am not overweight, I eat healthy food most of which I prepare myself and I go for a walk most days. Everyone has been surprised at these diagnoses. When I contracted cancer my mother said to me that I was the last person she would have thought would succumb to the disease and she had been a nurse of long standing. She also said something which I didn’t pick up on at the time, “It’s my fault.” Of course we reassured her then that she was blameless and even now I know about my conception I know that there can be no way she is to blame, but that was her instinctive reaction. The problem is did the practitioners really know enough about the background of the donor or the effects of donor conception on the offspring?
Have there been sufficient studies as to the medical outcomes for donor offspring and IVF offspring? The latter group are still quite young but there is some evidence to suggest a higher than average incidence of leukaemia. The problem about donor offspring isn’t just that there have not been any studies as far as I know, but the records have been destroyed and most donor offspring don’t know they were conceived in this way. I am at the age when medical problems are going to show but I am the tip of the iceberg. I know that lots of people desperately want to have children but does that mean we have a right to children and is it at any cost? What is the true cost to the children of their parents’ desire to reproduce? This is something we may all have to consider carefully.