Parents get OK to screen embryos to ensure match for terminally ill son...

  1. parents get ok to screen embryos

    couple can test to ensure match with terminally ill son: court

    emma ross
    the ottawa citizen

    wednesday, april 09, 2003

    london -- couples can screen their test-tube embryos to ensure the baby's tissue provides a match to help cure a sick sibling, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

    the ruling by the court of appeal in london is the latest step in a 16-month-long legal battle between britain's fertility regulator and an anti-abortion group, which claims such screening could lead to the creation of designer babies for spare body parts.

    in december 2001, britain's human fertilization and embryology authority said couples undergoing in vitro fertilization, who already were having their embryos screened for serious hereditary diseases, could also get a licence to have them tested for tissue matching to save the life of a sibling.

    the anti-abortion group comment on reproductive ethics went to the high court to block the licences, arguing parliament alone should decide on such issues.

    at the centre of the legal wrangling were shahana and raj hashmi, a couple striving to conceive a fifth child as an umbilical cord blood donor for their seriously ill four-year-old, zain. they had been granted the first licence under the 2001 ruling.

    but the high court ruled in december 2002 that the embryology authority had no legal power to license embryo selection by "tissue typing" to help sick siblings. that ruling put on hold the hashmis' licence and the embryology regulator appealed.

    during the appeal, mrs. hashmi made an impassioned plea to the judges in a bid to help save her child's life.

    "any child who is brought into our home will be fiercely protected. we don't wish any harm to our children," she said. "we would like you to please consider when making a decision that our son will die a terrible, painful death if we are not given permission to save him."

    the appeals panel said yesterday simply that it was overturning the high court ruling. details were not expected to be available until later, but the ruling means the hashmis can continue with their quest for a sibling to treat their ailing son.

    during in vitro fertilization, several embryos are created but only two or three are implanted in the womb. in some cases, the embryos are tested for certain inheritable genetic defects and only those free of abnormal genes are implanted.

    the embryology authority gave the hashmis, of leeds in northern england, permission to add another test to make sure tissue from their next child would be a suitable match for zain.

    neither the couple nor their four other children are bone marrow matches for zain, who suffers from the rare blood disorder thalassaemia and is expected to die without a transplant. stem cells taken from the baby's umbilical cord at birth could replace zain's bone marrow.

    copyright 2003 the associated press

    what a difficult position for the parents....and their ill child.
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   JedsMom
    I can't imagine having to walk a mile in their shoes. So sad
  4. by   RN2B2005
    My gut feeling is that this is wrong, very wrong. They're pinning all of their hopes on a potential donor. What happens if the older child dies anyway? Will the parents blame the newborn? Will they blame themselves (even more than they already are)?

    I can't imagine the psychological issues the child would have growing up if the brother he was supposed to save died anyway. It just makes me angry that these parents are willing to kill other potential children in order to save one, and it makes me even angrier that there are doctors willing to go along with it.
  5. by   RNonsense
    "We would like you to please consider when making a decision that our son will die a terrible, painful death if we are not given permission to save him."

    What an awful situation to be in....
  6. by   fergus51
    People have been doing this by chance for years. This just increases the chance they will be successful. I wouldn't judge them too harshly, knowing that parents would do almost anything for their children.
  7. by   emily_mom
    I agree with you all. Glad I'm not in their shoes.