How Is It Possible For One Child To Safeguard Another’S Life?
The story of Lisa and Jack Nash is filled with courage and love. Their daughter, Molly, was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition known as Fanconi anaemia at birth. The only possible cure for Molly was a bone marrow transplant, but unfortunately, there were no siblings to do a DNA sibling test; neither Lisa nor Jack were suitable donors based on their DNA compatibility. An alternative option involved utilising stem cells from the umbilical cord to reconstruct Molly’s ailing bone marrow. However, the couple discovered they had a one-in-four chance of conceiving another child with the same affliction. They chose a route of advanced medical science to address this challenge. A paternity test was carried out, and the sperm from Jack was used to fertilise Lisa’s eggs. Scientists could identify and segregate embryos free from Fanconi anaemia through a process called “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis” (PGD). These selected embryos were then implanted in Lisa’s womb. After nine months, Adam was born healthy, and his umbilical cord stem cells were used to regenerate Molly’s bone marrow.
Is such a course of action ethically sound?
Lisa and Jack always wanted a second child. The only fear that haunted them was the potential of their next child being born with Fanconi’s anaemia. But they found a way out. They were blessed with a healthy baby boy, Adam, and simultaneously had the chance to save their daughter Molly’s life. Yet, this path could lead to ethical dilemmas as it may pave the way to a market for “designer babies” catering to those who can afford such medical interventions. The concept can indeed be unsettling. However, fortunately, strict legal regulations necessitate these procedures to be monitored and reported to national health authorities. This regulatory framework curtails the possibility of exploiting women for their child’s umbilical cord, a rich source of stem cells.
The need for broad-mindedness
Such methods involve bringing another life into the world to help save an existing one. However, should society stand in opposition if a couple, like Lisa and Jack, wishes to have another child who could potentially save their sibling’s life? The stance a person takes in such situations requires open-mindedness and non-judgment. Even though the procedure doesn’t guarantee a 100% success rate, its significant success ratio presents it as a reasonable and acceptable choice. Medical researchers uncover innovative treatments for rare diseases each year, some of which might be deemed “unnatural”. However, the larger societal outlook should be receptive towards these breakthroughs, especially when it leads to transitioning a person from a life of suffering to a healthier existence.