The 21st Show

Discovering Sperm Donors Through DNA Tests; State of Spanish Language Media; Living Organ Donations


Flickr/Hong Chang Bum(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Millions of people have gotten their DNA tested by companies like Ancestry and 23andMe. One unexpected result? People are finding lost relatives, including sperm donors who were once anonymous. Plus, Chicago’s Spanish language newspaper Hoy is being shut down after more than a decade. We’ll talk about the impact the paper had and what its closure means for Hispanic communities across the state. And, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic have completed a new kind of liver transplant in the U.S. It’s safer, less invasive, and could lead to shorter wait times for people who need help.

Discovering Sperm Donors Through DNA Tests

More than 26 million people have taken at-home genetic ancestry tests made by companies like Ancestry and 23andMe to learn more about their family’s story. And many people have been surprised to learn that the story of their DNA doesn’t align with the one they grew up with. 

Imagine discovering, for example, that you have dozens of half-siblings, or that the doctor at the fertility clinic your parents went to decades ago, used his own sperm without your mother’s knowledge.

These are all scenarios that have been popping up in headlines recently, thanks in large part to the ubiquity of these genetic DNA tests. It’s making it harder for sperm and egg donors to remain anonymous, and it’s also raising questions about whether ethical standards are keeping pace with reproductive technology. 

Dr. Sigal Klipstein is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility. She also serves on the ethics committee for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 

Dr. Robert Klitzman is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and directs their Masters of Bioethics program. He’s also the author of “Designing Babies: How Technology Is Changing the Way We Create Children.”

State of Spanish Language Media

Last week, Tribune Publishing announced that it is shutting down Hoy, the publications’ weekly Spanish-language newspaper. Hoy has served Chicago’s Hispanic communities since it was first launched as a daily newspaper in 2003. But, print and online publications will end on Dec. 13. 

In Chicago, about a third of the population identifies as Latino or Hispanic. And about one in every four people in the city are native Spanish speakers. But, those numbers are not reflected in the number of Spanish-language media outlets in Chicago or statewide. 

We’ve also seen Spanish-language outlets that are owned by English-language news companies having to close across the country. Hoy is at least the fourth Spanish-language publication to close this year.

Laura Rodriguez is a multimedia journalist for Hoy. Octavio Lopez is the managing editor for Hoy.

Living Organ Donations

Every day, 20 Americans die waiting for an organ. And every 10 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list. According to the most recent data from the federal government, that list is more than 113,000 names long.

While Donations have increased slightly over time, they don’t come close to matching the need, and sometimes, the process can be difficult.

Well, there’s a newer, safer and less invasive procedure that could help living donors who want to help with a liver transplant. It’s called laparoscopic surgery, or “keyhole” surgery, and this past summer, Cleveland Clinic performed the first living-donor liver surgery of this kind in the Midwest. 

Dr. David Kwon is director of laparoscopic liver surgery at Cleveland Clinic. He led the team that performed this living transplant.

Kevin Cmunt is President and CEO for Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network. 

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