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?