By some accounts, 26 million people have undergone direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic or ancestry tests. While some of the results of these tests seem might seem obvious (I turned out to be half-Hungarian and half-Ashkenazi, to no one’s surprise), there have been a number of accounts in the media of test results that have been considerably more dramatic.
Some of the more shocking — and now shockingly common — scenarios are the ones in which a consumer finds out through a DTC test that they were donor-conceived, and that one or both of the parents who raised them are not their genetic relatives. Gamete donors, who often provide genetic material (eggs or sperm) with the promise of anonymity, are finding themselves the recipients of messages from genetic children they never intended to meet.
Gamete donors could argue that they have a right to privacy. But Prof. Seema Mohapatra suggests the idea of gamete donor privacy is no longer realistic, due to the state of genetic technology.
I sat down with Prof. Mohapatra to learn more about the many ethical and legal questions DTC genetic testing raises for donors, recipients, and clinics.