Embryology - Thomas Grey's gift

Embryology – Thomas Grey’s gift

When I walk the dog, it's my podcast-listening time. My favourite is Radiolab, and this recent one had me gobsmacked. It's about a couple having twins, but very early on, they learn that one of the twins won't survive due to a severe malformation of the brain (anencephaly). Despite the tragedy of losing a child a week after the birth, the couple decide to donate Thomas' organs.

The podcast tracks down some of the research labs which received Thomas' genetic material. Because Thomas and his surviving brother Callum are identical twins, it can really help us understand how the same embryos in the same womb can develop in vastly different ways.

An insight to embryology was Thomas Grey's gift

So how does this relate to osteopathy? Osteopaths, especially cranial osteopaths, are fascinated by embryology. This study of how external factors can influence prenatal development is called epigenetics. In the future, epigenetics may help explain why some babies are born with cleft palates, tongue ties or hip dysplasia. One of the research projects found that there were 1000 epigenetic differences between Thomas and Callum, which obviously had a profound effect on life and death. Listening to this podcast really made me appreciate how much of nature we don't understand and take for granted.

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