In Gattaca (1997), Irene appeared to be a Valid, but why does she have a heart problem? I understand that a heart problem would not matter to her occupation in Gattaca. In Gattaca, she accepts not going to space and becomes an assistant instead. What I don't get was why her heart problem was not eliminated from conception in the first place. I think heart issues would be one of the first things to be eliminated if some parents want their children to be Valids.
Irene appeared to be a Valid, but why does she have a heart problem?
The science is not 100%. As evidenced by Lamar's dialogue much later:
Unfortunately my son's not all that they promised.
You then say:
I understand that a heart problem would not matter to her occupation in Gattaca. She accepts not going to space and becomes an assistant in Gattaca.
Well, it does, she feels like a second-class citizen, less than the best, reduced to an assistant. She is an assistant because her heart problem did matter, preventing her from getting a better job.
The only trip I'll make in space is around the sun--on this satellite right here.
Also note that when Irene protests being removed from her work to assist the investigators, Director Josef's reply was more of contempt than of reassurance:
Your place is assured
Another reference to the inequality amongst the Valid's is when the investigators are in the exercise room, with Jerome's heart beat being monitored:
Even amongst your people you must have varying levels of excellence.
Occasionally we've been forced to accept candidates with minor short-comings.
Not directly related but when it came to Vincent's brother's enhanced modification, the Geneticist explains:
Now you appreciate I can only work with the raw material I have at my disposal.
I have to caution you it's not fool-proof. With multi-gene traits there can be no guarantees.
(I've noted that deleted scenes have the above line intact)
References from the draft script: https://imsdb.com/scripts/Gattaca.html
This draft, whist a lot of it is intact in the final film, also has parts that make the situation clearer:
Other Valids are shown as having issues:
Jerome's colleague, Napoleon (not in the final film) is shown to be similarly limited in some way, despite also being a Valid.
Per the original script, her heart condition isn't something that's likely to be an issue until she's well past retirement age. Given her superior looks and exceptional IQ, this is apparently sufficient to make her a 'valid', even if she's flawed.
IRENE: (enjoying his unease) It's here. My heart. (adding quickly) I'm careful--weekly check-ups. I'm on a drug maintenance program, blood thinners, diet--(slowly removing his hand) I just want you to know what you'd be getting yourself into.
JEROME: What exactly is wrong?
IRENE: Nothing yet. I'll start experiencing symptoms in my late-fifties. (matter-of-fact) But unless they come up with something between now and then, I won't live much past 67.
You may wish to note that the majority of valids aren't genetically engineered. They're simply selected from the best embryos available.
GENETICIST: You want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built-in already. Your child doesn't need any additional burdens. And keep in mind, this child is still you, simply the best of you. You could conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result.