Eggschain, a startup based in Austin that provides a supply chain solution to the assisted reproduction market, is led by Wei Escala. In vitro fertilization is the procedure of inserting fertilized eggs into the ovaries of a woman to induce pregnancy. This involves sperm. Sperm can be donated by a donor or a partner.
It’s part of a new breed of projects built on Stacks , a blockchain that shares a native connection with Bitcoin through proof-of-transfer, which ‘enables decentralized apps, smart contracts, and digital assets’ to be settled and verified on Bitcoin blocks. Eggschain, also known as DApps, is one of these decentralized apps.
Why is it necessary to register sperm donation and embryo implantations on a blockchain? Scalability is key to a seamless sperm donation process across different jurisdictions. This also includes high-level patient data protection, which guards against misfiling or loss of data and makes the entire system more transparent.
If all goes well, Eggshain’s Blockchain-based Matching Solution may soon be a success around the globe. Although it’s not yet here, the revolution is on its way.
Eggschain’s blockchain can be secured by Bitcoin via Stacks – a Y Combinator incubator startup ‘building a user owned Internet secured by Bitcoin’ This means that Stacks can operationalize smart contracts and DApps such as Eggschain by synchronizing with Bitcoin every 10 minutes to embed an indelible permanent record.
Dear community, this is the moment you have been waiting for.
We are thrilled to announce the first batch of 25 startups that will be using Bitcoin w/ Stacks.
– startups.btc (@StacksStartups) June 23, 2021
The Eggschain solution is still not available. Escala states that he doesn’t want to commit on a time frame, partly because ‘we are among the first to build on the Stacks Blockchain. This seems like a reasonable response, since it is not uncommon for blockchain projects that experience delays, whether they are due to technical, legal, or budgetary issues.
Although lower transaction fees were an important factor in choosing to build on a Bitcoin sidechain over other chains like Ethereum’s, Bitcoin’s reputation for being an incorruptible ledger made it the right choice. Escala claims that Bitcoin “will be around for hundreds, thousands, or millions of years,” as if it were stating a fundamental scientific fact. Although it is easy to dismiss the idea of millions of years as marketing hype, backing the most resilient chain for reproduction means that you will not lose your investment in the future.
“Bitcoin is one of the most established blockchains in the world, and its gas fees are very low when compared to other top blockchains.
Escala explained that “When your sperm has been donated, that is a transaction which gets hashed onto blockchain,” complete with an indelible date stamp. Additional transactions occur ‘when the fertilized sperm is placed into a woman’s egg or into a fetus. The time between egg fertilization and implantation can stretch for years, and sperm has been kept frozen for as long as 22 years and still been used successfully.
This means that donors will be able see how often their sperm has been used. This gives them an idea of how many children and where they live. This can even be used to gameify the sperm donation process, even if they are not available to their offspring.
Although Bitcoin is a transparent blockchain that allows transactions back to be traced, Escala explains Eggschain cannot be ‘backtracked.’ Eggschain functions with Stacks so that the ‘family tree can be tracked up or down. Escala explains that this is intentional. “Just because someone receives your donated sperm doesn’t mean they have the right to read your life. It is almost an invasion to your privacy.”
“Patient identifiable data cannot be stored on the blockchain.”
It is common for Indian women to have their first child by 20 years of age in India and other parts of Africa. At 25, the United States represents the lowest mean age in the Western world, with the average first-time mother in countries like Germany, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia flirting with or even surpassing 30 – the age at which fertility begins to decline.
While access to contraceptives is a contributing factor to the rise in the West’s ages, financial and career decisions are often a key factor. With the increasing pressure to delay pregnancy, the reality is that career growth often involves frequent moving between countries and offices. However, perhaps the era of work-from-home will bring some relief.
Heath issues like cancer, which is Escala suggests that someone who enjoys basketball may choose a donor who is “of a certain height” and plays basketball.
These anonymous attributes can all be added to the Blockchain, effectively making it the’stats of that specific sperm. This makes selecting sperm much easier. Although not comparable to serious medical procedures, the function of the chain has a metaphorical connection to certain, where characters’ DNA is tracked on the Blockchain and passed on to their ‘descendants. The ethical implications of choosing designer babies are presumably left to the users to wrestle with. NFT-based games
Escala is not a typical shoot-from the hip cowboy blockchain entrepreneur. Although she spent a lot of time in supply chain and marketing, Escala presents herself as a meticulous scientist, a geek, and a careful researcher.
She was born in Austin Texas, and moved to Singapore when she was 15. She attended Temasek Junior College, where she studied math, physics, and organic chemistry. After that, she returned to Austin to be near her good friends and to join the vibrant startup scene. She enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin’s computer science program, where she discovered her interest in cryptography and machine-human interaction.
She recalls that she graduated shortly after 9/11. This meant that a few of her offers were cancelled. Despite all the turmoil, she was still working in stockbroking and as a financial advisor for American Express in Salt Lake City. She was also a branch manager at SunTrust Bank in Hampton.
Escala was not satisfied with her finance career and completed an MBA in marketing strategy, general management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Atlanta. The 15-years of corporate career growth that followed saw Escala move between cities in the United States and stay on many jobs for only a year.
Ohio. New York. Texas. Ohio. Kentucky.
In 2017, she returned to Austin, Texas. She was the CEO of Powerista in Austin, Texas, where she could help anyone ‘build websites in less than 2 minutes’. Although it didn’t survive, the company is being promoted by someone who clearly has marketing skills.
Escala first encountered blockchain in Austin at the South by Southwest conference of 2018. She immediately recognized its potential for personalized medicine and used it to track biospecimens.
Escala’s vision is that sperm banks around the globe – effectively the frontend or user interface for sperm donation- plugged into the Eggschain backend. The theory is that this could give patients access to a wider range of sperm. This could allow for the programming of laws from different jurisdictions into the chain, thereby minimizing legal red tape associated with international inseminations.
Eggschain is ambitious because of the potential for scaling once the system has been implemented. Escala speaks for everyone involved in IVF.
Eggschain’s patent solution for matching and tracking genetic material using blockchain means that Eggschain has many potential future applications beyond sperm and embryos.
Escala exclaims with optimism that ‘Organs and tissues can use the system indefinitely’.