By Timothy A. Clements
“It appears your daughter has precursors for Alzheimer’s,” the doctor said coldly, “you don’t want your daughter to have to deal with that someday, do you?” he asked.
“Of course not,” the crying mother bellowed, “but what can we do?”
While the father chastised the doctor for his lack of empathy and distant demeanor, the doctor removed a key from his white coat pocket and unlocked the lower drawer of his desk. From it he retrieved a metal business card and handed it across his desk, to the desperate soon-to-be parents before him. The father took it.
“What is this?” he asked, “What is CRISPR?”
“CRISPR,” the doctor began, “is a cutting edge DNA therapy that will soon be approved by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration.”
“What kind of therapy?” the mother asked, “how can you give an unborn baby therapy?”
“And China?” the father asked, “Why don’t we have it here?”
“CRISPR was perfected by the Chinese nearly ten years ago, but due to its controversy it only recently was approved for human trials. All indications point to its legalization within the year. It’s been highly effective in embryos.”
“But what is it? And embryos aren’t people,” the father bellowed.
“About thirty years ago scientists in the states discovered bacteria that carries a particular virus,” the doctor explained, “To put it simply, biologists can manipulate the bacteria and make it attack bad DNA. Once eliminated, new, healthy DNA can be re-introduced and fill in. It’s simple and easy.”
“If it’s so simple and easy why are we just now hearing about this?” the father asked.
“The controversial status of CRISPR makes it a hot-button issue, and nobody in office will go near it. They’ll lose the religious vote. They were very vocal against potential embryo trials here, do you really think they are going to approve human trials?”
“Is it safe?” the mother asked. She shifted in her seat and leaned forward, hanging on every word the doctor produced.
“Very much so,” the doctor replied, “but expensive. And your insurance won’t cover it. That card will connect you with an answering service; ask for Dr. Ming.”
“How much?” the father queried.
“Thousands,” the doctor quoted plainly, “but a lifetime of happiness and health for your baby—absolutely priceless.”
“Money doesn’t matter; it’s my baby!” the worried mother told her husband as she grabbed his knee in a sort of quiet desperation.
“I want the best for her too,” he said, tears building in his eyes, “but we don’t know anything about this.” The father slouched down in the chair where he sat, placing his thumbs and forefingers across his head and brows.
“I don’t care,” she said with pure confidence, “if the doctor said it’s safe, then it’s safe.”
“Absolutely,” the doctor offered, “absolutely safe.”
“What are you getting out of this?” the husband asked the doctor, glaring.
“A mere finder’s fee,” he promised, “but very small, I assure you. I am only a facilitator, and your wife’s gynecologist, I only want the best for her, and the baby.”
“This is serious honey,” he pleaded, “there’s no coming back from this.”
“We’re doing this,” she scolded him, now sitting straight as a board and peering through his eyes to the wall behind him, “or we’re not coming back from this.”
The doctor smiled; “You’re going to make great parents.”
– Timothy A. Clements is a writer, photographer, and aspiring filmmaker. While predominantly identifying as a fiction writer, it was his nonfiction memoir piece “Petty is Dead” that first earned him publication. Currently he is working on a feature-length film script based on one of his short stories.