Conference: Boundaries, Bodies, Borders: The Global Exchange of Human Body Parts

27 March 2017

5th May 2017, University of Leeds

10.00-16.30, Social Sciences Building, room 12.21-12.25

Call for abstracts

The global movement of donated human body parts (e.g., blood, embryos, organs, sperm, oocytes) have gained increasing academic attention. A large part of these accounts express concerns regarding unequal power relationships between countries and between the parties engaged in medically related relationships (recipients, medical staff and medical facilities, providers of organs, tissues or cells etc.).

We wish to invite postgraduate students and early career researchers to explore the processes of meaning making in relation to body parts exchanges, and think about the following questions:

•      how do understandings of various technical procedures, bodies and body parts, and relationships (such as exchange relationships) emerge?

•      who does participate in framing them?

•      how do these understandings direct the flows of body parts across borders?

We welcome contributions that analyse how different actors delineate the boundaries between science, ethics, law and other types of authority as part of their valuation performance, and how they manage uncertainty and risk in the process.

Abstract submission

Please send abstracts (150-250 words) to A Gruian, ssag [at], by 3rd April 2017


The event will be chaired by Dr Ana Manzano (University of Leeds). Speakers:

• Prof Ruth Holliday (University of Leeds).Medical Mobilities: Economies and Ethics

• Dr Sean Columb (Liverpool Law School). Organ markets & exploitation: Assessing the impact of crime and immigration controls in the Egyptian-Sudanese context

• Dr Mark Monaghan (Loughborough University). Conceptualising Crime, Evidence, and Immorality

• Dr Greg Moorlock (University of Warwick). Beauty Contests & Directed Altruistic Donation

• Alexandra Gruian (University of Leeds). Ova Flows in Romania: Definitions, Legitimacy, Legality

Registration fees

• BSA members: £10                 Non-members: £25

• We offer 5 bursaries for postgraduate students. Fee includes lunch and refreshments

• Register here.

Debate: The Donor-Conceived Perspective

13 February 2013

You are invited to attend the Progress Educational Trust’s FREE public debate ‘BEING: THE DONOR-CONCEIVED PERSPECTIVE‘ at University College London on the evening of Thursday 28 February 2013. This event is taking place from 6.30pm-8.30pm, and forms part of the Wellcome Trust supported project ‘WHEN IT TAKES MORE THAN TWO’.

The debate will see speakers including DR TABITHA FREEMAN (of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research), CHRISTINE GUNTER (Coordinator of the voluntary contact register UK DonorLink, which is now closing following Government funding cuts) and two donor-conceived people (KEVIN MOORE and JESS PEARCE) – chaired by PROFESSOR ERIC BLYTH (Co-chair of the British Association of Social Workers’ Project Group on Assisted Reproduction) – give contrasting perspectives on questions including:

• Are people entitled to know that they are donor-conceived? (Their parents are under no formal obligation to inform them, even now that entitlement to donor anonymity has been removed.) What impact does how and when someone discovers that they are donor-conceived have upon them?

• What are the ramifications for donor-conceived people of the recent High Court ruling – that permitted two sperm donors in a same-sex relationship to apply for contact with their biological children, conceived through a known donation arrangement with two different lesbian couples?

• Is there a point at which it should be the prerogative of donor-conceived people, rather than the prerogative of their parents, to decide who is and is not informed of the fact that they are donor-conceived? If so, then when does this occur and how?

• What is the impact upon donor-conceived people of discovering that they have (in some instances, an enormous number of) genetic half-siblings, in the form of the children of the donor who conceived them and/or other people who were conceived with that donor’s gametes? Should the tracing of half-siblings be encouraged and facilitated?

• What support will be provided to the first generation of donor-conceived people legally entitled to initiate contact with the relevant donors? Who will provide this support, and how will it be funded? In light of the closure of UK Donor Link, what options are available to those who were donor-conceived prior to the 1991 formation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority?
If you should like to attend, please RSVP by email to Sandy Starr: sstarr [at]

TV: Donor Mum – the children I’ve never met

25 August 2011

BBC 1, Tuesday 30 August 2011, 22.35-23.30, available after broadcast via the iPlayer

From the programme’s website:

In 1991, Sylvia was one of Britain’s first anonymous egg donors. After donating as a one-off at the London Fertility Centre in Harley Street, all she asked to know was whether her donation had been successful. But she soon found out more than she had bargained for.

Sylvia was struck to discover an article in the Daily Mail six weeks after she donated, telling the story of a woman called Joan who had successfully become pregnant using en egg donor. The clinic, the dates and the fact that they were twins, coincided exactly with Sylvia’s story. She felt sure that Joan was her recipient.

Joan had a tragic story – her two boys were killed in a car crash when they were on holiday in Crete, and in her mid- 40’s she desperately wanted to start another family. When she successfully used an egg donor, there were countless press reports that covered her moving story of tragedy transformed into happiness, and even a BBC documentary in 1994 that showed the twins as toddlers.

Sylvia felt tormented by seeing children who were genetically hers, but were in fact strangers who she wasn’t supposed to know. She was tempted to make contact, but terrified of upsetting a family who had already suffered so much. But once the twins turned 18 she felt it was right to take the bold step of contacting them.

Alongside Sylvia’s story is the story of her son Eliott. Sylvia wanted a child when she reached 33 but hadn’t found Mr Right, so she decided to go it alone. Eliott was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, and was born six months before Sylvia donated her eggs. Now 19, Eliott is ready to search for his sperm donor father.

For Eliott, born in 1991 when all donors were anonymous, his only hope is to search through DNA testing with the help of an organisation called UK Donorlink.

For Sylvia, contact with her recipient is at her fingertips. The film follows her turmoil as she decides how and when to make contact with Joan and the twins – and the extraordinary consequence of her decision.

Donors is a warm and moving film about a new kind of family emerging from the interventions of science. This film is also a snapshot of a future following the removal of donor anonymity in 2005, where more and more people will discover who their donors are after they turn 18.


TV: surrogacy

31 May 2011

True Stories: Google Baby

More4, 31 May 2011, 10.00-11.45pm, available after broadcast on 4oD

From the programme’s website: “An Israeli entrepreneur is proposing a new service: pregnancy producing. His customers can select sperm and eggs online, with surrogacy outsourced to India. But what are the ethical and moral implications?”

From the Radio Times: “We open with the least romantic birth scene you’ll see this year. In India, a woman lies impassively as a C-section is carried out; while stitching the patient up, one of the doctors is on the phone, organising another birth. The woman is a surrogate and the room is part of a baby farm, full of women who bear children for a living. Elsewhere in this drab, disturbingly matter-of-fact film, we meet a man who conducts his international surrogacy business using Skype, a never-quiet mobile and a suitcase just big enough to hold a nitrogen flask of frozen embryos. Then there’s the American egg donor, injecting herself with potentially carcinogenic fertility drugs. The miracle of life suddenly seems very creepy.”

Seminar: Modern alternatives to the traditional family: International Perspectives on Third Party Reproduction

11 October 2010

Monday 8 November 2010, 6pm to 7pm, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

ROBERT T. TERENZIO, Law Offices of Robert T. Terenzio, Orlando, Florida, USA. and,
MRS. SOUAD DREYFUS, Managing Director,  Open Arms Consultants. Inc , Bradenton, Florida, USA.

Free, all welcome.  If you wish to attend RSVP to

PhD Studentship: Generation to Reproduction

16 September 2010

The University of Cambridge invites applications for a doctoral studentship funded by a Wellcome Trust strategic award in history of medicine. We seek outstanding candidates whose research would fall within the theme ‘Generation to Reproduction’.

Possible areas for doctoral projects include, but are not limited to:
patient–practitioner relations around fertility and other encounters that framed the generative body; the influence of diseases, including venereal diseases, on reproductive behaviour and demographic patterns; representation and communication of generation and reproduction; ancient, medieval and early-modern investigations into generation; generation and childbirth in medical cases and casebooks;
the reorganization of knowledge of generation/reproduction, especially in the age of revolutions; such sciences as embryology, obstetrics, gynaecology, evolutionary biology, reproductive physiology, genetics and developmental biology; reform movements around birth control, population control and sexual science; twentieth-century transformations in techniques, experiences and regulation; networks linking academic biology to reproductive medicine and public health, agriculture, especially animal breeding, and/or pharmaceutical industry; techniques for monitoring and manipulating pregnancy, hormones, genes, gametes and embryos, e.g., pregnancy testing, genetic screening, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer; sexology, psychology and psychoanalysis, including social and psychological practices for making babies and families.

The three-year studentship pays a generous stipend plus University and College fees at the home rate only. Candidates will usually be expected to hold a Master’s in the history of medicine or with strong emphasis on the history of medicine.

Informal inquiries may be made to the award holder with the most relevant interests. A list of award holders can be found here.

Formal applications should be submitted through the relevant Department or Faculty in the usual way, indicating an interest in the studentship. The deadline for applications is 15 February 2011 to be admitted in October 2011. The closing date for online applications is 1 February.  Further details of how to apply can be found here.

Debate: Paying for blood and organs is not so bad

13 August 2010

Monday, 11 October 2010, 5:30pm

The Wellcome Collection Conference Centre

183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE

Allowing sales of gametes and body parts and offering incentives to increase provision have been some of the more controversial suggestions to narrow the gap between demand and supply. Drawing on Richard Titmuss’ work on blood, many have argued that financial incentives reduce supply by driving out altruistic donors as well as reducing the quality of the provided gametes and body parts and the decision-making surrounding their provision.

This debate brings together leading experts to consider, in the light of evidence and argument, whether the taboo on payment for gametes and body parts remains crucial, and how this should influence our thinking about policy.

Speaking for the motion:
Professor Martin Wilkinson
Associate Professor of Political Studies, University of Auckland

Seconder  TBC

Speaking against the motion:
Professor Heather Widdows
Professor of Global Ethics, University of Birmingham (tbc)

Professor Sheila M. Bird
Senior Scientist, MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge

Professor Theresa M. Marteau
Professor of Health Psychology, King’s College London; Director of CSI Health

Tea served from 5. To be followed by refreshments.

This event is open to all and free to attend. Further information here. To book your place please email