Hold The Pickles, Hold The Lettuce–BABIES!

Remember, the catchy old Burger King commercial about “Have it your way”(where you can order the burger any way you want, no problem!)?

Now, we are reaching the point with DNA testing, where we can have it your way and order up babies the way you want them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, by getting genetic profiles of egg or sperm donors, you can search for a match with the genetic profile of the would-be parent to have a higher likelihood of desired traits (e.g. blue eyes) or lower likelihood of undesirable ones (e.g. heart disease).

23andMe, a DNA company (note: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes) that sells home testing kits for $99, has patented a process for analyzing DNA and providing information on health and ancestry, and this could be used for system screening of egg or sperm donors through a tool called a “Family Traits Inheritance calculator.”

Calculating better babies by choosing desired matches at fertility clinics is only steps away from actually making marriage decisions based on genetic make-up–in that scenario love is only one factor in choosing a mate and maybe not the primary any longer.

The idea being to screen potential couples before marriage to yield “the best” potential children–smartest, athletic, good-looking, etc.

There are already genetic banks for screening and capturing genetic information on potential couples to avoid genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and others.

While bioengineering children for better health is one thing, creating a blue-eye and blond-haired race was the Nazi’s concept of an Aryan nation as a superior race that would dominate the world.

The ethical questions of how to screen out illness without creating a situation like in China under a one-child policy, where male offspring are considered superior and so we proverbially tilt the odds in favor of what we think is best even if it may not really be.

Neither a homogeneous superior race, nor a customized bioengineered baby is the answer–rather, we need to value healthy diversity in children, where each is a miracle and a blessing in their own right. 😉

Restoring Hearing Using Bionics

Restoring Hearing Using Bionics

A mother wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the miracle of Cochlear Implants.

Lydia Denworth described when her 2-year old son, who is deaf, got these implants and how now he is now able to attend 5th grade in a “mainstream school” and is “nearly indistinguishable from the other children.”

These implants allow her son, Alex, to have a conversation with another child about the hearing device that “can open up the world of sound and spoken language.”

Denworth states at the end of the editorial, “Moments like that make me deeply grateful for the technology.”

For me, reading this was an opportunity to go learn about the amazing bionics that has already restored hearing to 320,000 people!

While hearing aids amplify sounds and make them louder, they don’t resolve permanent damage to the inner ear.

A cochlear implant bypasses the damage by receiving sounds in a microphone, digitizing them, and converting them to electrical impulses that are sent directly via implant to the auditory nerves– bypassing damaged or missing sensory cells in the ear–in a way that the brain can understand.

I am in awe of the inventors–Graeme Clark, Ingeborg Hochmair, and Blake Wilson–who are being recognized for their pioneering research leading to the development of Cochlear Implants.

Hopefully, soon we can do for sight, smell, taste, and touch what we can do for hearing and restore the impaired to fully functioning again.

We are living in a time of great miracles–thank you G-d!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bjorn Knetsch)

The Miracle Of The Red Sea

The Miracle Of The Red Sea

After being sick the last week with the flu and still on antibiotics, I ventured out today and took the girls hiking in Harpers Ferry.

It was just a little cold–um, maybe a lot cold–but we slogged through the trails anyway and had a great time.

The water falling off the cliffs was still freezing on the rocks underneath and it made for some nice pictures.

One interesting photo that I’ve attached was of the water that had a veneer of red over the top–first it looked like maybe it was a tarp, but up close, we saw it was just like a carpet of red algae over the water–it was pretty spectacular.

I couldn’t help thinking how perfect this is for Passover that begins on Monday evening, because it brought alive the image to me of G-d delivering the Israelites from servitude and splitting the real Red Sea for them to cross through to freedom.

While we didn’t attempt to cross this red water, it was an amazing natural sight to behold (thank you G-d). 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jumping Jean Saves The Day

Metro

This was beyond my belief this evening–it is a true story!

As I was getting off the train, my iPhone slipped out of the OtterBox clip on my belt and fell…but it didn’t just fall down, it fell at the precise moment that I was disembarking the train and it fell perfectly vertically right between the small space between the train and the platform. 

I couldn’t believe it–I don’t think I could drop it through that way myself even if I tried. 

Sure enough the phone is laying in the rock bed on the tracks. 

As the train pulled out, I was sure it was a goner, but apparently it survived not only the fall, but also the train running over it as it lay there.

A woman next to me, saw the whole thing unfold and she says to me after the train pulls out–“if you’re going to get it, you better hurry up and do it now!”

I must’ve looked completely astonished when she said that as I peered over to the signage that said the next train was arriving in literally 1 minute!

I looked around for someone from the Metro to help, but no one was there. 

Out of nowhere, a young man rushes forward and says, “I can get it” and before I know it–he jumps into the tracks with the train approaching.

He did it so fast, picked up the smartphone, and jumped back out onto the platform, all in the nick of time–I’ve never seen anything like it–it was completely amazing. 

I was in disbelief that anyone would do something so crazy as to jump in front of an oncoming train to get a dropped phone that didn’t even belong to them–simply to help a fellow human being. 

I tried to help grab him onto the platform, shook his hand, thanked him profusely, and offered him a reward–he refused to even take that. 

On the train we sat together, and he told me about how he came from Cameroon where he had little opportunity and was working two jobs here, including helping seniors and working at McDonalds. He told me how he liked to help people–and that was more than evident to everyone who witnessed this. 

In the end, the iPhone was still working and Jean strengthened my faith in good people still out there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal from a prior Metro ride)