What happens when a couple has children naturally, and they don’t need their frozen embryos anymore? Or perhaps they separate or decide not to have children. What happens then? Many couples end up paying hundreds of dollars a year just to keep their embryos frozen. But what’s the point in paying all this money for something you don’t need anymore?
It’s a good idea to give these unused embryos for research, for it could allow a paralyzed person to walk again, or someone living with the constant fear of having a stroke mend their blood vessels. Do you have any relatives with Alzheimer’s disease? If so, you must know how difficult it is to see them get worse and worse before your eyes. Donating frozen embryos is a good way to find a cure for this disease among others, which can help families all across the world.
Stem cell research has been proven to help many people suffering from many issues such as sickle cell disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, Leukemia, heart disease, liver disease, HIV and AIDS, autism, and arthritis, among many others.
An example of the benefits of Stem cell research is in the life of 23-year-old Katie Sharify, who lost all sensation from the chest down after a near-fatal car accident. Then, using a five day old embryo, doctors were able to fix her damaged spine, allowing her to walk again, and fulfill her dreams of surfing and skiing. She was also able to return to her normal life, and finish her college education.
Some might argue against the morality of performing tests on these embryos. Which brings up the question: Are embryos humans? And if so, do they have the same rights as a full person? The answer is most likely no. These embryos are simply two cells, without conscious thought or a beating heart. There are also laws around when to end someone’s life if they are on life support. These laws can apply to these frozen embryos. It states that if the subject has no conscious thought, it’s fine to take them off life support if the family wishes. Frozen embryos don’t have conscious thought, and therefore, with the parents’ consent, they can be used for the greater good.
These cells, are just made up of one of 2 million egg cells, and one of a seemingly infinite number of sperm cells. So why are these few cells so special? As Stephanie Smith of Odessa, Missouri puts it, she was “…still giving life, just not for those particular five embryos.” So why not give these extra embryos to help give a paralyzed child the ability to walk, or help woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease remember her family again? Donating frozen embryos will lead to finding cures for so many diseases that affect millions, even billions of people everyday.
Bell, Laura. “The Fate of Frozen Embryos.” Parenting.com, Meredith, http://www.parenting.com/article/the-fate-of-frozen-embryos. This blog post talks about what women can do with their other frozen embryos, besides using them fro their original purpose. Some of these other options include giving them for science experiments, using them when pregnancy is unlikely, or donating them to an infertile couple. It also gives some great personal examples of women who decided to give their frozen embryos for stem cell research.
“Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Dilemma.” EuroStemCell, 5 Nov. 2015, http://www.eurostemcell.org/factsheet/embyronic-stem-cell-research-ethical-dilemma. This website gives reasons both in support of and and against the use of embryos for research. It states that the embryos, since they are outside of the uterus have no physical, psychological or emotional properties that we associate with humans. The website also goes to say by taking the embryonic cells out of the embryo, it is preventing the embryo from becoming what it is meant to be. There are many other moral dilemmas that are addressed at this site.
Potter, Steve. “Is the Killing (Abortion) of Human Embryos Always Murder?” Eveloce.Science, WordPress, eveloce.scienceblog.com/13/is-the-killing-abortion-of-human-embryos-always-murder/. This page talks about the legality of killing embryos. One idea that was interesting was that when someone is on life support, their family can decide to take them off when there are no brain waves, and they haven’t any conscious thoughts. The same rule can apply to frozen embryos. The embryos don’t have a brain or a beating heart, so it is up to the owners of the embryos to decide what to do with them.
“Stories of Hope.” California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, http://www.cirm.ca.gov/patients/stories-hope. This is a great source for learning about the benefits of stem cell research. There are so many diseases that can be cured by stem cell research. From curing sickle cell disease, to Autism, to AIDS, stem cells can help many people all across the world to cure a large variety of diseases. This research from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine has helped many families by doing experimental research and curing people of what ails them.
“What Are the Potential Uses of Human Stem Cells?” Stem Cells, Turning Discovery Into Health, stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/pages/basics6.aspx. How can donating frozen embryos lead to advancements in the medical world? Donating frozen embryos can lead to advanced stem cell research, which can lead to finding cures for some major diseases where scientists have never found a cure. This is facilitated by the fact that stem cells don’t come with the DNA code which tells them what type of cell they should be. This allows scientists to create missing pieces of tissue, bones, or organs, which can cure many diseases.