While working undercover with Raelians, journalist Brigitte McCann volunteers to provide Clonaid with her human eggs for research claimed to produce miracles akin to those of Jesus.
MARICOURT, QUE. — Rael wants my eggs. He needs them to produce his own “Jesus miracle” by healing sick Raelians with the help of stem cells. “The place is upside down,” apologizes Brigitte Boisselier as she leads me into her condo at the UFOland complex in Maricourt in July. Among the six Raelians present, four are among Rael’s famous angels.
I push aside a pair of shoes and two magazines to sit on the sofa with the others. What used to be the UFOland cafeteria, now a loft, is a mess.
Fatigue is visible behind the broad smiles of the bleached blond with the plunging neckline.
Boisselier is familiar to millions as the president of Clonaid, a company founded by the Raelian movement. Last December, she declared her company had succeeded in cloning a human being, setting off worldwide controversy.
In a low voice, clearly nervous, the priestess of human cloning begins the confidential meeting by explaining her next mission. She wants to accomplish a miracle for Rael — she wants to use embryonic stem cells to heal an Italian Raelian who is paralysed from the waist down.
She compares it with great enthusiasm to the miracles of Jesus.
But first, she needs eggs. She is looking for volunteers who are ready to provide her with the eggs she plans to fertilize.
The embryos produced will in turn produce stem cells to be grafted on volunteers who are ill in an attempt to heal them.
For the moment, no law bans the use of embryos in research. But this could change with the adoption of Bill C-13, possibly before Christmas, making such procedures illegal.
Boisselier insists on the simplicity of the procedure. For a few weeks, the production of our eggs will be stimulated by hormones, the same used to treat fertility problems. The eggs will then be extracted through natural channels, without incisions, before fertilization.
She claims the side-effects are minimal.
“But donors can develop an infection or experience a hemorrhage during the extraction of the egg, and thus jeopardize their fertility in the future,” cautions gynecologist Francois Bissonnette.
“The patients must be aware of all the possibilities, even if they do rarely occur,” insists the specialist from the OVO fertility clinic in Montreal.
Boisselier rapidly moves on to other issues. The women can only be examined by the movement’s physician, Marc Rivard. She explains Rivard, recognized by the College des Medecins, will determine whether or not we are good candidates.
We will be housed, fed and transported free of charge for the two required appointments — the first for the hormone prescription session and the second for the operation. The extraction will take place at Clonaid’s famous secret laboratory — the same one where Boisselier claims to have “conceived” the first cloned babies.
Its location will be revealed to us only at the end of the procedure.
“I never go there myself,” says Boisselier, adding she is afraid of being followed.
We are sworn to secrecy, we can’t even tell our spouses. It wouldn’t do if, for example, a spouse discovered our airline tickets and its destination.
She offers to pay us in cash.
“The amount will be negotiated with Marc Rivard on an individual basis,” she says. “There will be no traces, just a contract between us,” she assures in a confidential tone.
However, we must sign two documents. A confidentiality agreement is submitted to us in English, granting the famous blond predetermined damages of $1 million in the event of a breach of contract. The same document is submitted to Clonaid clients who wish to clone their cat.
Then, papers regarding the ethical aspects of the procedure will have to be signed, but Boisselier does not elaborate on their nature.
None of the women seem to be at all surprised at what she says. It seems their minds are already made up and the volunteers limit their questions to basic technical issues. Nothing on the fundamentals. Difficult for me to push ahead without setting off alarm bells.
A Mexican Raelian woman asks if she can talk about this to non-Raelian friends who could be interested in the money. “Yes,” answers Boisselier, “but don’t tell them it’s for Clonaid. Tell them it’s just for an ordinary lab.”
Coui, a 26-year-old Rael “angel,” asks if the fact she has taken drugs may have affected her eggs.
“It could have affected the genetics of your eggs, but we won’t use that part,” Boisselier explains. “We simply take the egg, remove all genetic elements, and use the rest.”
“Discuss it. Ask questions,” she encourages. “I want you to feel totally at ease.”
“Take the time to think about it,” she continues. “Those who are interested can say so to Thomas (Keanzig, a Raelian and Boisselier’s right-hand man) before the afternoon is over.”
When the time comes to leave at the end of the afternoon, two of the girls announce they are willing to go ahead with the operation. So do I.
More than two months later, Clonaid has not yet followed up its request for eggs.