Saviour Siblings

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Saviour Siblings: Good or Bad?

The first question that will crop up in your minds will most likely be - what is a saviour sibling? Defined by the Oxford dictionary, a saviour sibling is a child conceived through selective in vitro fertilization as a potential source of donor organs or cells for an existing brother or sister with a life-threatening medical condition. http://www.qub.ac.uk/methics/MaloneC2008.pdf

To what extent should parents go to ensure the wellbeing of your child is being met? Are saviour siblings a humane and proper use of reproductive technology? Can parents create a child specifically designed to cure the ailment of one of their offspring when there is no real benefit to the created child? What are the risks and down sides of “saviour siblings”? Nothing is more wonderful than the birth of a baby. Babies are a symbol of life and love that a man and woman create together. It is heart-breaking when a man and woman just can’t seem to conceive a child, but with the medical advances today we have something called in vitro fertilization. The process of in vitro fertilization is not guaranteed to be 100% to always work but it definitely increases the chances of a woman giving birth to a baby. Now imagine that baby is sick or not healthy. Maybe that baby has a rare disease and there is little to no hope of him or her surviving. Is there anything you would not do to save your baby? What if it meant giving birth to another baby? Unfortunately this is a scenario that happens. Parents of terminally ill children make the decision to have another baby in order to save the child they already have. The babies are called “saviour siblings”. This sounds like a great solution for the problem, but what about the new baby as it grows up? What are the risks and the down sides to creating saviour siblings”?

The philosopher Kant states; “Never use people as a means but always treat them as an end”. If there is no benefit at all to the created child it appears hard to justify that it is humane and proper to use him to save the life of a sibling. However, there seems to be a flaw in the use of Kant’s argument in the context of “saviour siblings”. Although the created sibling might not be aided physically by the procedure, he is being given a life and in most cases a loving family who claim they want the new sibling as a way of saving their other child’s life and as adding a new member to their family. If the child is to live a reasonably normal life then perhaps he is not being used solely as a means, he is in fact benefiting from the procedure meaning that it could be classed as fully humane, to both siblings.

Tim Harrison
Civilisation and technology proceed hand in hand, but with the technology comes the need to exercise responsibility. The technique of in vitro fertilisation for humans was developed in the United Kingdom by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. The first "test-tube baby", Louise Brown, was born in Oldham, England, as a result on July 25th, 1978, sparking a wave of debate throughout the world. Technology has progressed further now, with the ability to execute pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) on embryos. This has made possible the idea of “saviour siblings”. Currently, in the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) are called upon to decide whether or not to allow the creation of “saviour siblings” and they have developed guidelines that help them decide when the technology should be used. A “saviour sibling” is defined as any offspring conceived in vitro to increase the chances of survival or quality of the life of one of its siblings. Usually this aid is in the form of an organ or tissue donation. To create a “saviour sibling” one must first perform in vitro fertilisation; the mother is usually given medication to induce ovulation and the eggs are then collected and are mixed with a sample of the father’s sperm. Within three to four days any conceived embryos will have...
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