I am a frequent watcher of Fox and Friends in the morning. I have enjoyed their show as well as the medical “A” team. The medical “A” team has always been quite objective and interesting.
I was surprised on Feb 20th, 2014, when I saw and heard Dr. Marc Siegel comment on new PGD technology that allows us to test embryos for the presence of the BRCA Breast Cancer Mutations. The usually objective Dr. Seigel seemed to be fine with the test, but then went on to share his anxiety about the potential of PGD to lead us down the pathway of genetic engineering and the possibility that we may create an “evil super race” akin to the evil super beings from “Star Trek.” I was surprised to see Dr. Seigel go down the road of the news correspondent that tries to sensationalize a story for ratings.
Dr Siegel should have emphasized that Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis allows physicians like me to treat a family and many subsequent generations. There are many horrible genetic mutations that lead to severe morbidity and the early death of children. A mother that has lost a baby in her arms due to one of these conditions like cystic fibrosis or spinal muscular atrophy or a family that has dealt with the severe mental afflictions of Fragile X should have the choice to grow their family with much reduced risk of the known disease that they wish to avoid. Dr. Seigel did acknowledge the usefulness of PGD in these severe and lethal conditions, but should not criticize families that may choose to modify the risk of a condition like breast cancer in their offspring. Statements like the ones made on Fox and Friends alluding to physicians like me may potentially create an “evil superhuman race” are incendiary at the least and should not be made by a true man of science.
Twenty seven years ago I chose my career path with the hope that I would be able to apply genetic knowledge for the prevention of human afflictions. Now it is part of my daily practice. It is a powerful practice that inspires and humbles at the same time when we choose to implant a human pre-embryo that we know is free of the affliction to which his or her older sibling succumbed.
Julio E. Pabon, M.D. , F.A.C.O.G.
Fertility Center and Applied Genetics of Florida