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Three months after his bone marrow transplant, Chris Long of Reno, Nev., learned that the DNA in his blood had changed. It had all been replaced by the DNA of his donor, a German man he had exchanged just a handful of messages with.
He’d been encouraged to test his blood by a colleague at the Sheriff’s Office, where he worked. She had an inkling this might happen. It’s the goal of the procedure, after all: Weak blood is replaced by healthy blood, and with it, the DNA it contains.
But four years after his lifesaving procedure, it was not only Mr. Long’s blood that was affected. Swabs of his lips and cheeks contained his DNA — but also that of his donor. Even more surprising to Mr. Long and other colleagues at the crime lab, all of the DNA in his semen belonged to his donor. “I thought that it was pretty incredible that I can disappear and someone else can appear,” he said.
Mr. Long had become a chimera, the technical term for the rare person with two sets of DNA. The word takes its name from a fire-breathing creature in Greek mythology composed of lion, goat and serpent parts. Doctors and forensic scientists have long known that certain medical procedures turn people into chimeras, but where exactly a donor’s DNA shows up — beyond blood — has rarely been studied with criminal applications in mind.
originally posted by: Puppylove
a reply to: Vasa Croe
The first thing I thought of was... wouldn't that mean if he had kids, the offspring would technically be the donor's heritage?
The specifics of Mr. Long’s situation raise an inevitable question: What happens if he has a baby? Would he pass on the genes of his German donor or his own to future offspring? In this case, the answer will remain untested because Mr. Long had a vasectomy after his second child was born.
But what about everyone else? Three bone marrow transplant experts who were surveyed agreed that it was an intriguing question. They also agreed that passing on someone else’s genes as a result of a transplant like Mr. Long’s was impossible.
“There shouldn’t be any way for someone to father someone else’s child,” said Dr. Rezvani, the Stanford medical director.
That’s not to say that other forms of chimerism haven’t created comparably confusing scenarios. Fraternal twins sometimes acquire each other’s DNA in the womb; in at least one case that led to unfounded fears of infidelity when a man’s child did not seem to be his. In another case, a mother nearly lost custody of her children after a DNA test.
But a donor’s blood cells should not be able to create new sperm cells, Dr. Rezvani said. Dr. Mehrdad Abedi, the doctor at the University of California, Davis, who treated Mr. Long, agreed: He believed it was Mr. Long’s vasectomy that explained how his semen came to contain his donor’s DNA. The forensic scientists involved say they plan to investigate further.
originally posted by: Vasa Croe
This is really wild. We could essentially completely change our DNA fingerprint to the point of not being correctly identified. I wonder how many clandestine operations have know this for years and have used it to their advantage?
I'm glad they say that's the most unexpected part to them because it's also the most unexpected to me. In fact I find it a little hard to believe there's not still some of his own DNA in his semen. It's understandable how the other DNA was introduced in his operation, but it's not understandable to me yet how his own DNA could completely disappear from his semen.
The most unexpected part was that four years after the procedure, the DNA in his semen had been entirely replaced by his donor’s.