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This woman will decide which babies will be born

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This woman will decide which babies will be born

Explain to me your own decision to do this: to use Orchid’s technology on yourself.

I mean, I started the company because I wanted to test my own embryos.

Because of your mom or because of who you are as a person?

Both. Reproduction is one of the most fundamental things in life. It’s like you die, taxes, and, you know, people have kids.

You always knew you wanted to have children.

Oh yeah. Yeah.

How old were you when you said, “I should be able to sequence my embryos”?

I don’t think it was sequencing my embryos. specifically. I have always been interested in genetics. I have always been interested in fertility and reproductive technology.

Even as a teenager?

I remember one of my applications for the Thiel fellowship definitely had a version of Orchid.

That was more than a decade ago, and many expectant parents still rely on the same genetic tests we used back then.

I would consider it negligent to use old technology. Because, by definition, you are missing hundreds of things that could have been detected. Parents who are not informed that this new technology exists are being done a disservice and will likely sue if their child ends up with a condition.

Do you think it is a legitimate demand?

Of course. If your doctor doesn’t tell you that there is a way to test your child for a potentially life-threatening or life-altering condition, I mean, it’s already happened. [Parents have been suing physicians for failing to perform genetic tests since the late 1980s.]

How much does an orchid screening cost?

It’s $2,500 per embryo.

And presumably you would be examining several embryos. What about families who can’t afford it?

We have a philanthropy program, so people can apply, and we’re excited to take on as many cases as we can.

Your clientele, at this point, should trend toward well-off optimizers: people who really care about numbers.

I guess you’re right. I mean, I don’t know.

Do you ever worry about that? Give people, like, further things to worry about?

No no no. I think it’s quite the opposite. For the vast majority of our patients, it reduces worry.

There must be exceptions.

There are some people who, I agree, are a little anxious. And I just don’t think they should do any genetic testing.

Oh yeah?

I mean, we’re all different. It’s just that I want to expand the choice menu. You can choose your partner. You can choose when and if you have children. This is it, this is your son. Why would you censor information about that?

But this still makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. There is often fear around anything to do with reproduction. Are we, I don’t know, afraid to play God or something?

Every other time we look at something, we develop… we develop insulin, right? We thought, “That’s great!” It’s not like you’re playing God there. But you really are, right? You are creating something that did not exist before.

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