Civil Liberties

Mohels Aren't Paid Very Well, But They Get To Keep the Tips!


Or maybe not.

Foreskins have long been treasured by cosmetic dermatologists because they are rich in fibroblasts, tiny cells that play a crucial role in healing wounds and generating collagen and connective tissue. (One foreskin can be bioengineered into a piece of lab-grown skin the size of a football field.) The makers of Vavelta extract them by finely dicing the foreskins and treating them with enzymes. Then the fibroblasts are suspended in a proprietary cell storage medium and injected into "problem areas" with a fine gauge needle. In preliminary studies, Vavelta has worked well at eliminating wrinkles and scars without any side effects other than mild redness and itching (and the weirdness of knowing that you've got a foreskin in your face). 

Insert "dickhead" joke, here. 

In all seriousness, as the PopSci article points out, this does raise some interesting ethical issues.  Who owns your son's foreskin?  If you leave it with the hospital, or with your rabbi, can they then sell it to a pharmaceutical company to be diced, treated, and injected into Joe Biden?  If so, should they be required to notify you first?  Is it in a kid's best interest to allow his parents to sell off his foreskin, given the fierce debate over the possible health benefits/drawbacks of circumcision?

Kerry Howley delved into some of these issues in her terrific feature from our March 2007 issue, "Who Owns Your Body Parts?"

Thanks to Tom Hynes for the . . um . . . tip.