The trouble with embryos


Welcome to science fiction. Years coming to you from the Home Studio Bunker, still. Can't seem to get the doves and waterbirds to be quite when I need them to be, but look in today's show. It's a wild story about biology ethics, politics and to millionaires on a personal mission that went horribly. Why would on the case is reported John Lee? Who joins me for this show? Hi Natasha Yeah. This starts in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, one with Mario and elsevier. They would to property developers from Los Angeles and they really wanted to have a child together, but they were an older couple. Yeah, that's right also was forty and Mario was fifty seven, and they couldn't do it on their own. So in one thousand, nine, hundred one. They decided to come all the way to Australia to try this brand new thing in fertilize. Fertilize Ation Ivf I mean today creating a baby using his totally commonplace, and it's a big industry over familiar. But this was the early eighties when the technology and the science was so new that this just was we'd this idea that you could create a human embryo outside of a woman's womb, and suspend its development in time to it was blowing people's minds. The moment of conception. An event that has taken place in its natural environment, the womb since the doing of human existence. Now it comes in gloss. And with a host of problems, moral, ethical and legal. So Australia was leading the way in fact with the science of RV. If that when the real couple come here, the techniques still very much being Susta, this is experimental stuff. Yeah, and one of the people who knows just how difficult those early days were is Gab, Kovacs he's a professor of obstetric gynecology at Monash University, but back then he was the clinical. Director of the IVF program at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne. was very difficult to Queen Victoria hospitals over General Hospital and everyone sort that. Is Just a phase. He wasn't going to work. It wasn't a last and we wasting. Everybody's time. When we started doing collections. We have to me. Natural Song goes on spontaneous relation, so it's not unusual to have to collect exit to I. Am for am six I am. So we had a lot of opposition. All IV of treatment started out using the so-called natural cycle method, which meant doctors had to wait for the perfect moment in a woman's natural ovulation cycle to retrieve that one egg. She created every month. If they collected at the right time, it could go on to be fertilized to make an embryo. If they time too late, they'd miss the egg and have to wait another month too early and the egg wasn't mature. Mature enough to be fertilized outside the chances here of actually getting a baby out of IV, if treatment would have been extremely low when the Rayo says rock up in Australia yet, but a talented trio at the Queen. Victoria, hospital was changing all of that, and they were about to put Australia. In the history books so I wanted to do the IV. If in a totally different way to the way they were doing it because I wanted to utilize. Methods developed in animals, scientists Alan, trounson originally trained as a bit and he was to the hospital by IVF. Pioneer cal would car would he allowed me to work with John? Laden to develop a totally different system, which was using fertility drugs to stimulate than women, so we could get more eggs and hence more embryos. Well what happened is is that actually worked? It was the system that actually work. It was a huge leap forward. They found a way to create multiple viable embryos at a time and freeze them, and every extra embryo meant another chance of creating a baby for a couple who couldn't otherwise have one is, but every stage in artificial production is still precarious. So in those early days, a significant proportion of those embers just were lost in the phrasing. Prices will only about thirteen percent five treatments ended with a live baby back then today that figure stands at about thirty percent, but even so this scientific breakthrough was life changing for Wannabe Parents Alan Trounson. An iphone they could cope with disappointment. Absolutely, you know very well essentially because. They understood. This was a very early in in terms of the research, so the chances of getting outcomes would very low if anything happened when somebody got pregnant and is is it was astonishing and so when we go to Ronald pregnancies from the methods with using John in the whole world Sunday stood up and so what what the Heck did you do? Do that. Okay, so let's meet the American couple at the heart of the story Jane. They land in Australia headed. Elsa Riaz respond to treatment will Gab Kovacs was one of the doctors at the Queen Victoria Hospital remember I said they were millionaires. That's important to this story, but back then Gab Kovacs had no idea. Just Shiva's is trashed and she spoke. In Mississippi we didn't look very well off. You ever probably struggling to spend the money to Florida squad expensive to fly back in the ninety ninety eight foods relatively much more than what they are now and with quality deal to come over here and leave over here. We felt sorry for him and most secretary always. suggestively discounted faithful porpoises Riaz who've had no idea that they were quite wealthy. He Remembers Elsa being very dramatic and difficult to deal with, but she had good reason to be all. She was very strong that a terrible history. I'll guess you've gone through Easter beforehand and they've were pretty strengthening to fly over here. They had one child who they'd lost. He was murdered. I think or an accident. Remember the D. Tough, and that's why they're really chained to have another child and off. If they're only hype, that's why to throw you. Both Mario and L.. Serena's had had children with previous partners, but they'd been a tragedy. Else's ten year old daughter had only recently died should been playing with a gun and it went off killing her that he's absolutely horrific are so that means that there was so much emotion entangled with this whole process. That's right. There was, but the process started well. Three embryos were created for the couple using else's eggs and donor sperm, so they had three chances of success. And I don't think we did about eleven o'clock midnight on a Saturday evening and she was very dramatic. Everything was sound. What's the drama? So she would her ex collected to street is beforehand a fertilize, and they would have developed and. Would have chosen the best probably wanting to Australian bureaus back, which would then be tempted to be

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