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Having One Baby to Save Another

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A Canadian couple longs for another baby to save the life of their 8-year-old son with leukemia.

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As parents, we would do anything to save the lives of our children. For a Canadian couple desperate to help their 8-year-old son beat leukemia, that means having what's been called a "savior baby," a child conceived with the intention of harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord blood to be infused into a sibling's bone marrow.

Besides the controversial nature of the procedure, Pam and her husband, Michael Obadia, both 47, are also finding difficulty obtaining IVF treatments in their native Canada because the cut-off age for subsidized fertility treatments is 45. Even if they do manage to conceive, having a "savior baby" isn't a guaranteed cure. And the donor child may need to have repeated medical procedures to help prolong the life of his or her sick sibling.

Is this fair to the younger child, who is conceived to help a sibling?


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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Marisa April 17, 2008, 1:42 PM

God bless these people in the quest to save thier beloved child. We banked the stem cells of our last two children (we have three) and we don’t have any disease prevelant in our families, but it’s comforting to my husband and I that if our kids did come down with something, we’d have ammo to fight back. I pray that if these parents do concieve a child, that they make that child feel every bit as special as thier first. God bless them and thier sick child.

kristy April 17, 2008, 2:24 PM

I think that this is something no one can decide until they are put in that position. There are so many things to consider, so many things that are factored in that unless you are sitting in that doctors office with the life of your child at stake, you can’t possibly begin to imagine what you would do. I have been in that position, faced with using one child to save another. Our 4 year old was diagnosed with Leukemia when our younger son was just 2 weeks old. We hadn’t banked the cord blood so when it turned out our younger son was a perfect match it wasn’t even a decision to use him as a donor. It just was what was. I suspect its the same for these parents they are just doing what they need to do and if the result of that is another beautiful child to love, and that child can save the life of his/ her sibling that thats all the more incredible. No sibling or relative is a guaranteed match though, and I encourage EVERYONE to put themselves on the bone marrow registry! My heart goes out to this family and I hope they are able to do whatever they need to save their child.

Jenn April 17, 2008, 2:56 PM

I think if you already have a child who can help a sibling, there is really no other choice. Jodi Picoult’s book My Sister’s Keeper is a work of fiction that supposes the issue of having a baby to save another, and I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about the issue.

I only hope these parents have set some limits on their expectations of Saviour Baby, to have their priorities right when he/she comes along, to say, if the stem cells don’t work, we’re not going to use him/her as a harvesting ground for organs, further cells and bone marrow to keep Child 1 alive. They have to ask themselves, how much is too much? That, I think, will be the most challenging question.

Kristine April 17, 2008, 2:57 PM

I have nothing to say other than read the book, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult before deciding whether or not to do something like this!!

Kelley April 17, 2008, 4:28 PM

As long as they will love, respect, and take care of their second child, more power to them. There’s no such thing as too much love.

jen April 17, 2008, 7:08 PM

I was really moved by your comment, Kristy. I wouldn’t begin to judge these parents and agree with Kelley’s points.

Genevieve April 18, 2008, 12:49 AM

There’s been less noble reasons for getting pregnant.

My heart and well wishes go out to this family.


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