ARE ‘SAVIOUR SIBLINGS’ OK?

A Vancouver couple have opted for desperate measures to boost the survival odds for their eight-year old son who has been battling leukemia for five years. No bone-marrow matches are available so the couple will try to create a “saviour sibling” – a test-tube baby created to save an older sibling through donor stem cells from the newborn’s umbilical cord.

The procedure involves embryos created in a laboratory with the mother’s eggs and the father’s sperm. Doctors then look for a tissue match and the matched embryo is implanted in the mother’s uterus and when the baby is born, umbilical cord stem cells are harvested for transplantation.

However, the B.C. couple must go to Chicago for this procedure (which costs $30,000) because B.C. doctors are not prepared to aid them because of ethical and moral concerns about creating – and exploiting – a life to potentially save another.

The mother in the case says they must do all they can to save their son: “It’s not like we are trying to create a designer baby.  We want another child, we will love another child.  And if we succeed we may help save our son.”

Do you see anything morally wrong with the concept of “saviour siblings”?

Should the procedure be available in Canada?

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7 Comments »

  1. 1
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Do you see anything morally wrong with the concept of ‘saviour siblings’?”

    No, nothing at all.

    “Should the procedure be available in Canada?”

    Sure…. why not?

  2. 2
    Chimera Says:

    I don’t see anything that’s particularly moral about the situation one way or another. This isn’t an act of morality or immorality — it’s an act of desperation on the part of the parents. They want what they want, and they are not going to listen to anyone else, no matter what. If it were against the law in North America, and the only place they could get it done were in Antarctica, they’d be busy spending all their available funds on kulituks and mukluks, and packing for the trip.

    Why is it not available in Canada?

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I don’t see anything morally wrong with saviour siblings…as long as the harvesting of the umbilical cord presents zero danger to the child from whom it is harvested.

    People have children for all sorts of selfish reasons…this one seems to me to be a “good” selfish reason.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I’m not worried about the moral or ethical aspects of the thing. I’m worried about what will become of the “saviour” should the salvage fail. And later on how will he or she feel if they learn, and some well meaning relatives or friends will surely come out with it, that they would not be there were it not for their bone marrow? Have any one of you ever worked with children born for all the wrong reasons? Some pull out of it, others are not a pretty sight.

  5. 5
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “how will he or she feel if they learn, and some well meaning relatives or friends will surely come out with it, that they would not be there were it not for their bone marrow?”

    I can’t imagine this being a problem… I know if I found out I’d been born because my brother needed a liver (or whatever) I’d be proud.

    “Have any one of you ever worked with children born for all the wrong reasons?”

    How is this “the wrong reason”?? I think you’re making far too much about nothing…

  6. 6
    Chimera Says:

    I think Paul makes an excellent point, Joe. What if the younger sibling were to learn that the only reason his parents wanted him was because they wanted his bone marrow to save his older brother? And then, what if it didn’t work, and the older brother died anyway. And there he is — a living symbol of their failure.

    For some people, it might not ever be an issue at all, never mind a serious one. But for others…well, you’re as familiar with the dark side of humanity as the rest of us.

  7. 7
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Well I’m not alone out there. Thanks Chimera.


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