‘BioHacked: Family Secrets’ delves into the baby business and the startling aftermath of at-home DNA testing

Science March 28, 2022
Listen to ‘BioHacked: Family Secrets’

“BioHacked: Family Secrets” is a science podcast dealing with DNA, but this story is not about tracing and solving cold cases. This series delves into the multi-trillion dollar medicine and technology industries. Season 1 investigates the fertility industry and shares what happens when children of anonymous sperm and egg donors become DNA detectives only to learn the truth and find themselves at odds with the industry that created them.

Many people first learn they were donor-conceived after taking commercial DNA tests like 23andMe, overturning the anonymity promised to donors. The baby business has provoked many ethical, political, and scientific challenges. Some are meeting dozens or hundreds of their half-siblings for the first time.

The baby business did not predict how future technology could shatter secrets and create challenges for donor children searching for answers later in life. Amber believed she was conceived by her parents until she received a 23andMe kit for Christmas at age 30. Her results startled and upended the entire family. She found a half-sister and embarked on an emotional rollercoaster when finding answers.

Host T.J. Raphael, a friend of Amber’s, began documenting her story as she unearthed long-held family secrets and grappled with her identity after learning this life-changing information. Throughout the podcast, Amber shares her story, and in bonus episodes, listeners can hear from other folks learning about their genetics for the first time, too.

Start the podcast from episode 1 to hear the complete narrative from Amber’s initial shock over her parents’ struggles with infertility and what happened when she tried tracking down her biological father and uncovered critical medical information. All episodes so far are less than 45 minutes long.

Episode 3 shares the history of sperm banks, and the technological advancements that made the fertility industry possible. Later this season, episodes will explore cryopreservation, plans for selective breeding powered by a sperm bank, and underground businesses selling sperm and eggs online. This podcast will investigate the first IVF baby and how widely-accessible DNA testing has changed the world.

“BioHacked: Family Secrets” is presented by Three Uncanny Four. Tune in for new, weekly episodes wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to ‘BioHacked: Family Secrets’
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