Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unpacking the Global Human Egg Trade

Fast Company
September 1, 2010

Modern fertility technology has made parenthood a possibility for thousands more people, but it has also created a lucrative -- and ethically questionable -- global trade in human genetic material.

Krinos Trokoudes knows this much about women: "If you pay something," he says with a smile, "you get lots of girls." Coming from a silver-haired man in a white lab coat, the remark sounds a little unseemly, but he does not mean it the way you may think.

Trokoudes is an embryologist. His business is harvesting human eggs, and every year, hundreds of women are impregnated at his Pedeios IVF Treatment Centre in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia. In 1992, he made the Guinness Book of World Records after a 49-year-54-day-old patient he had impregnated via in vitro fertilization delivered a healthy baby girl; at the time, the mother was the oldest person ever to have given birth after IVF. Trokoudes's record has since been shattered (two years ago, a 70-year-old Indian woman birthed IVF-conceived twins), but his achievement helped establish Cyprus's reputation as a home of doctors who are willing to push the frontiers of the fertility industry.