Sunday 19 September 2010

A bargain at twice the price

Last year I posted on the Puah Institute, who help ensure that Jewish couples in need of assisted reproduction techniques are able to follow Halachic law. One part of this service is exceptionally strict supervision of gametes all the way through the system, ensuring they wind up where they're meant to with no mix-ups. I'd written:
...the article [National Post, here] notes a low low price of about $100-$500 for a service that watches your gametes like a hawk and makes extra sure of no mixups. Seems like a bargain that anyone in that market would grab. If the notional cost of a mixup is say $7 million (pulled out of the air based just on VSL measures; I have a hard time imagining the compensating differential that would make me equally happy across world-states), seems pretty cheap even if the baseline probability of mixup is pretty low.
I wonder now how low that baseline probability really is. The National Post now writes:
Lawyers for two families suing a well-known Ottawa fertility doctor for allegedly using the wrong sperm samples to create their children say they believe other patients of the clinic may be in for a surprise.

Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin and the Broadview Fertility Clinic, which he owns, are the targets of two lawsuits launched in Ontario Superior Court seeking a combined $3-million in damages for “heightened anxiety, depression and frustration,” among other things, suffered by the families.

Both statements of claim, obtained by the National Post, ask the court to order a test of Dr. Barwin to rule out “the possibility that he is the donor whose sperm was used to inseminate.”

Pam MacEachern, lawyer for the two families, said she is investigating the possibility that her clients aren’t the only parents who may have been inseminated with the wrong sperm, given the proximity in time, 2005 and 2007, between the alleged incidents.

“The fact that it happened to two people a couple of years apart in very similar circumstances gives us a lot of concern,” Ms. MacEachern said yesterday. “We believe that there’s a good basis to believe that it probably has happened to other people.”
We fortunately were never in the market for these kinds of services. But were we, I can't imagine not going with something like Puah, if they'd accept atheists people who would seem to have converted very recently.

It's odd that trusted middlemen haven't emerged in this kind of market who, unaffiliated with the center, would provide the kind of monitoring service provided by Puah.

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