Thursday, March 17, 2011

Strange IVF story...

Ok, so there's a baby which in this family named Jamie who has a rare disease. A possible cure is to use the stem cells from a sibling's umbilical cord and possibly also bone marrow from this sibling. Problem, they do not have any umbilical cord blood to get the stem cells. So the solution the parents came up with is to do IVF treatment and "create" 5 embryos. Then scientists will determine which one does not have the disease, and implant it into the mother's womb. Once the baby is born, they will retrieve stem cells from its umbilical cord and possibly bone marrow if that doesn't work.

Of course, there are many problems here.

1) The baby is being conceived for the purpose of providing a "cure" for another sibling. This can easily create feelings, outward or subtle, that this newest baby was conceived for "parts". This will be psychologically devastating to this poor child.

2) 4-5 embryos will be killed. These are human beings which will be killed because the family only needs one. They are just getting so many to increase their chances of a good "donor embryo".

3) This sets an ugly precedent. What happens when people start "producing" babies in the lab to provide cures for other people? It's just too disturbing!

Here's the story:

IVF baby will help to treat brave Jamie - Health - Peterborough Evening Telegraph


  1. Walk a mile in our shoes. I am the mother of Jamie, and you are jumping to all manner of conclusions. Firstly I would like to say that it was always our intention to have another child....but to concieve naturally would put our baby at risk of being born with the same serious condition that Jamie has. This way, we will not be bringing a child into this world to suffer like Jamie has, and we can also have a baby to be a match for Jamie as an added advantage. This story isn't all that strange, and it's not our idea, as you say. Read the media and get connected, because we are not the first, and will by no means be the last to attempt this kind of treatment. I am a good mother to my children, and will be a good mother to any other babies that we choose to have.

  2. well said Jamies mother!! i too have a son with the same condition and respect and honor Jamies family's decision. i suppose mr. lynch and all that agree with you, if you were lucky enough to have children you would just sit and watch as your childs life slowly slipped away when there were options you couldve taken to possibly give him a full and normal life??? how about going and sitting with Jamie during one of his many stays in the hospital. if the sight of what you see does not change your opinion then may god have mercy on your soul!! but i suppose its fellas like you that live by the term out of sight out of mind?? that being said why not just leave Jamie and his family alone, they have enough on their plate and should not have to worry about the ramblings of a pencil pusher who is obviously not pro life as you claim!!

  3. As a Catholic and parent of a DBA child as well, I fully support them. I will do anything it takes to keep my child alive. I will drawn blood from a stone if I had too in order for him to get his life saving blood transfusion. I will stand at the gates of hell and stab Satan in the throat and drawn his blood into a container if need be. You have no idea what a DBA child has to endure, what the family has to endure, so do not sit there and pontificate about what you think is disturbing. Personally I do not care what you think is disturbing. The family is making a choice. Free will granted to us all by God. you have the right to your opinions and beliefs, You have no right to sit in judgement.

    You are under this preception that babies are being murdered and squeezed like oranges to make marrow and that is what the media and the Catholic church want you to believe. Do you still believe you will go to hell if you eat meat on Fridays. The Catholic Churchs used to deal with heresy by burning heretics. What was the response - Ooops My Bad - Sorry - we were wrong. Maybe, possibly they are wrong about stem cell research and transplants?

  4. There is a lot of passion when it comes to this issue, as is evident from the comments I have received here. Of course, everyone supports Jaime and would like to see him as healthy and happy as possible. That includes me and any good Catholic.

    I'm sure a parent would do anything in their power to help their child. That's what parents do. However, the guiding moral principles at play here do not change in these circumstances.

    I believe Jaime's life should be saved or improved in any morally licit way available. However, I do not think the path being chosen is in any way morally licit.

    Unless I am mistaken, it is my understanding that 5 embryos will be "created" in order to find the healthiest one to use. Automatically, four children are being killed. The moral principle here is that multiple people cannot be killed to improve the health of another.

    No one in practice would subscribe to this as being legitimate. All human life is sacred, and therefore cannot be destroyed to benefit someone else.

    I understand that you are in a difficult situation, and this procedure is available because of the laws of the country, therefore you are opting to use them. However, I believe that moral laws supersede civil laws.

    The end does not justify the means.

    I'm not sure how the comments on meat on Fridays were relevant to this discussion.

    I am simply outlining moral principles as I see them.

    I hope you are able to find a morally acceptable solution to your problems.

  5. Hi Phil, I am Jamies Auntie. I have had this conversation with others on both sides of the fence. My opinion is this, if you look at this with the mind set you have of course you will think it is wrong. However, if you step back for one momet and open your mind slightly you will see that what your saying is not correct. I will address one thing at a time. Firstly you mention the emotions of the child "saviour sibling". Let me put it to you in this way. When you adopt a child do you simply say you werent wanted so I took you in? No, you say that as an adult you have to make th right choice by your child and that his/her parents didnt feel they could give him/her the best life. Secondly, I can vouch that Jamies Mummy and Daddy were always going to have another baby. They are fantastic parents bringing up well rounded children despite struggling with a poorly child. Some would have expected that Jamies siblings would resent Jamie but they dont they are loving and understanding kids that I am proud to have in my life. Yes the possibilty is that other embryos will be destroyed but what about all the eggs that arent used when a woman has a period or the wasted sperm when a man masturbates. The world is not black and white as you may like to see it. It is always morally acceptable to do your utmost to make sure your children are healthy and happy and this is the case for both Jamie and the new baby that I am so excited to welcome into this magical world. If we can use stem cells to cure others then surely that is a brilliant thing if the world can cure each other. The stem cell is merely wasted when a baby is born when it could provide vital cures!!

  6. My comment about meat on Fridays was to meake a point but I guess it was over your head. My point being is that what you deem as morally corruptable. it USED to be the doctrine of the Catholic Church. It no longer is.

    The Catholic church can admit that they are wrong. Christ forbade divorce in all four gospels however the catholic church grants divorce in certain cases. People were taught they would go to hell for all sorts of things. Is it not morally the right thing to do to want to SAVE THE LIFE of your child. OR do you let the child let the child deteriorate suffer and die? I pray to God EVERY DAY repeatedly asking him to touch my son and heal him. I go to church and received communion, have the blessed sacraments of annointing with oils performed on my son. I truly believe in the power of God and the Holy Eucharist. However your logic is flawed. Medicine is advancing. Do you hinestly think that if this is deemed a sin in the eyes of the Church Church she would not be forgiven? Do you think that she and her family have not asked for guidence from God on countkess restless nights? Maybe just maybe God inspired her and her family to do this for a reason? Maybe Jamies case is the catalyst and the breakthrough to cure all sorts of disease. DBA, Cancer, AIDS, Sickle Cell.

    IVF is not an option for my wife and I for reasons I will not get into here. However I will stand in judgement before God Almighty for any and ALL decisions I would make to SAVE MY SON"s LIFE.

  7. Phil Lynch i am a very close friend of the family, i find your comments morally unacceptable. you would rather a child suffers than see him get better.
    1) the baby is not being created for spare parts
    2) its not until day 40 of pregnancy that the embryo becomes a baby, on this day it is decided weather its a boy or girl and also the pineal gland is created which is believed to carry the soul in to and out of this world.
    this family is amazing, they have so much love for each other.
    You have no idea what lengths you would go to if this was happening to your family.
    your religion over the years have admitted they have been wrong, 1 of the latest changes is they now believe in aliens so whats to say in a few years they will actually back IVF

  8. Mr Lynch, are you opposed to IVF altogether? During IVF, several embryos are always created, and some of them are always discarded. Just like they will be in this treatment. The only difference is, instead of nature selecting a random embryo, doctors will select a healthy embryo which additionally can save a child's life.

  9. Thanks everyone for your comments. I will attempt to respond to any points you brought up:

    Firstly you mention the emotions of the child "saviour sibling".
    This is not really a moral argument against IVF. It is an argument, but it is simply something I believe could happen among others when we divorce a natural act from the outcome. In terms of the savior sibling as you call it, it has been documented that children can feel this way.

    I am not questioning whether or not Jamie's parents are good ones, in terms of being parents.

    Any feelings of resentment are not at issue either here.

    In terms of sperm and egg, they do not constitute "persons". An embryo, however, has all the genetic material that it ever will. Its eye color, hair color, and genetics are determined. At this point all that is necessary is nutrition and growth. This is unlike sperm and egg which do not constitute a person with unique genetics. After an egg is fertilized by a sperm, no new life is created, only development and growth occurs.

    You say it is "always morally acceptable to do your utmost to make sure your children are healthy and happy". This is a false statement. The end does not justify the means, and the end definitely does not justify ANY means. I do not believe it is morally acceptable to kill 4 children so that another child can be happier or healthier.

    Stem cells are a different issue, but I will address it briefly. First of all, taking umbilical cord stem cells to help another child is a morally acceptable procedure, since it involves the use of adult stem cells instead of embryonic ones. However, producing children in a lab to use them as test subjects and ultimately killing them is not morally acceptable, even with the possibility of cures. Keep in mind no cure has ever come from embryonic stem cell research.

    Commenter #2:
    Abstaining from meat on Fridays was never a doctrine of the Church. It was instead a discipline. In fact, the rule about meat on Friday was not revoked, but a different form of penance can now be chosen. In any event, disciplines can change, doctrines and/or dogmas cannot. Murder falls under the category of doctrine and is therefore unchangeable. Not only that, it also falls under natural law, so philosophically speaking all people are held to that standard, not just Catholics.

    The Catholic Church does not permit divorce.

    It is morally right to save the life of your child, perhaps even morally obligatory. However, both the ends and the means must be good. If either is not, then it is an immoral action.

    You ask if it is deemed a sin in the eyes of the Church, could she be forgiven? Of course. Any and all sins can be forgiven with repentence.

    God does not violate his own moral law, so to say God is telling people to kill embryos would be incorrect.

    To Samantha:
    I would prefer to see the child completely healed and happy, everyone would.
    2) Interesting that you bring up the 40 day paradigm for when a child receives its soul. This is not the teaching of any main Christian denomination. This idea was tossed around a little several hundred years ago, however there is something you must keep in mind. Thomas Aquinas, though he followed Aristotle in the belief that a male child receives a soul at 40 days and a female receives hers at day 80, he nevertheless believed abortion prior to this was equivalent to murder. However, the Church does not accept the 40 or 80 day hypothesis, and teaches that life begins at conception.

    I'm glad the family has a lot of love.

    The Church has no official position on aliens.

    Commenter 4:
    Yes, I am opposed to IVF altogether. You mention that embryos are always killed in IVF treatments. I know this, and that is one of the reasons I oppose it.


    Feel free to respond to anything I've said or post more comments.

  10. I take issue with your use of the term 'Saviour Sibling' as it is the umbilical cord that will do the saving. Mind you 'Saviour Umbilcal Cord' wouldnt give you a headline.

  11. These sorts of comment infuriate me. I can only imagine that these comments come from a position of ignorance. I think it is important to understand the mechanics of IVF, in terms of PGD. Would you condemn a woman, accusing her of manslaughter by negligence for failing to become pregnant at each menstrual cycle? In the simplest of terms, during the PGD-IVF process, a woman is given drugs to down-regulate then further drugs to superovulate so that she produces as many eggs as possible: these are eggs that would normally be "sacrificed" during subsequent menstrual cycles. Sperm from the father is used to fertilise each of these eggs in-vitro. Many will not fertilise, some will not develop, some will develop abnormally and if lucky some will develop into blastocysts and maybe beyond. Some embryos will not develop sufficiently and will "self-destruct", for want of a better expression, prior to reimplantation. Following reimplantation, as with the "normal" process of impregnation, there is no guarantee that a pregnancy will develop. The difference between "standard" IVF and PGD-IVF is that 1 cell is removed from a cluster of 8 cells and tested for the disease and if required, HLA-matching for a possible stem cell transplant for a sibling. There is no engineering or alteration, purely selection – something that mother-nature prides itself on.
    I fully support the personal choice being available to undergo PGD-IVF or not. My 11-year-old daughter died a horrible painful death due to an inherited genetic disorder and my 3-year-old son has the same condition. We tried PGD and were unsuccessful but my wife got pregnant naturally and we will have to wait for another 5 or 6 weeks to find out if he has the same condition and if he is an HLA-match for his older brother. The cord blood would have been thrown away anyway. Our new baby was wanted for himself and will be loved in his own right. Where’s the problem if the waste product from his birth can save his brother’s life? If anybody saw the suffering our little girl went through, I think their opinion may differ. Walk a mile in our shoes then……………….
    In any event, I fail to understand the Church’s objection – God has given us the intelligence and ability to develop new treatments, procedures, technologies and drugs – why should we not use what is available to prevent unnecessary suffering?
    "Life begins at conception"?????? How many embryos do actually self-terminate? Under "normal" circumstances, not every one develops into a pregnancy!!! I am a Scientist but I am also very spiritual (there is no reason the two cannot go hand in hand) – I know that we all have a spirit / soul that cannot be explained by science. I actually felt my daughter’s spirit leave her body hours before the machine was switched off and she was pronounced "clinically" dead. I also know that one single cell does not have a soul, neither do 6 or 8 cells in a cluster that are tested during PGD-IVF. Furthermore, what is important is personal belief and values – the way we live our lives and how we treat others. My unborn son will be loved so much, just like my other children, whether his cord blood is a match for his brother or not – this would be a bonus NOT his "raison d’etre".
    Please do not lose sight of the fact that religion is man-made: there are so many different Churches that cannot agree, it is unreal – wars are fought in the name of religion – I know that I will join my daughter in heaven one day even though I never set foot in a Church.

  12. As for the comment about "savior sibling", I did not originally call the surviving sibling that. That was brought up by an anonymous commenter. There are no moral issues with "savior" umbilical cords as you put it.

  13. David, thank you for your long explanation of how IVF works and the natural cycle. I am really sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. That is very tragic.

    Here is a pertinent teaching from the Church regarding this matter:

    [M]arriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (58) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life 8)

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states that

    Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization). . . dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." (CCC 2377)

    On top of the essential reasons for which in-vitro fertilization is morally impermissible, there is the added reason that IVF involves the willful destruction of a human life, which is a form of murder.

    Saying that nature often rejects an embryo for one reason or another is irrelevant. People also die from diseases or natural causes, yet we would not consider this murder.

    You are right to say how we live our lives and treat others is important. Not killing people would be important in this regard.

    You are correct, God has given us intelligence and ability to develop new treatments. The Church supports these efforts. But the Church objects to violating human dignity.

    I would like to clarify any confusion by saying that the Church does not oppose the use of cord blood to help another person.

    The Catholic Church is not man-made, it was founded by Jesus Christ who is God. Other churches contain some truth, but the Catholic Church contains the fullness of the Truth.

  14. actually Jesus Christ is NOT God he is the son of God. I am not going to argue with you on whether or not this family or any family should use any means possible to save their child. Same as I don't get into fights with Jehovahs Witness's when they come to my door and tell me that I am wrong for letting my son live by having blood transfusions. The catholic church has upset me a lot in the recent past(sex abuse ring a bell). Your thinking that you have a right to tell people that what they are doing is wrong or sinful, that is NOT up to you to decide. You are not God and have NO authority to tell anyone what they are doing is sinful, it's Gods job and I believe he is quite good at it. So if they are going to be judged for saving Jamie's life then it is up to God to do so not you or anyone else. I pray they can get an HLA match and save their little boy. They have been through more in a short peroid of time than you could possibly imagine. Instead of passing judgement how about you do something useful, go donate a pint of blood, maybe become a bone marrow donor. You could possibley be the match for someone in Jamie's position, and would be able to save a life.

  15. You actually sound like you are a Jehovah's Witness. They too deny the divinity of Christ. Traditional Christianity has affirmed that Jesus is God. But that's not the point.

    I cannot judge the state of anyone's soul, but I can comment on the objective morality of a situation.

    Giving blood is a meritorious thing to do so that's a good suggestion.

  16. not a Jehovah's, Roman catholic thanks. We were taught Christ died, was buried on the 3rd day rose again, he ascended into heaven is now seated at the right hand of the Lord (aka God). Are you trying to tell me that all of our priests were wrong?
    Are you so morally pure you feel justified in judging anyone elses choices. It must be nice to live without sin.

  17. Ok, I accept that you are Roman Catholic. The main point I was trying to make was that Jesus Christ is God, the second person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is also God, and God the Father is God. What you wrote there is correct, so the priests were also correct.

    I don't wish to give the impression that I'm impeccable in this blog. One of the things I do on this blog is take news articles which have been reported and comment on them from a Catholic moral perspective. I am not judging the state of someone's soul, that's God's prerogative. But I can review things that are happening in the world with a Catholic lens to determine their morality. I do not believe that is wrong.

  18. Phil Lynch i have so much i would want to say to you but i'm busy living my life, caring for my friends, family and anyone else that needs it. you should try living more instead of judging others on how they live, as life is not a rehearsal, its for living, step outside your closed mind once in a while and experience what the world has to offer!

  19. Jamie's auntie Sam1:05 pm, April 01, 2011

    I would like to personally thank Mr Lynch for writing this article as it has helped spread the word about DBA and Jamie's journey, which has increased the awareness of this awful disease and our wonderful little boys fight for survival. subsequently this has also increased donations to the journey helping us to get a little bit closer to being able to do the IVF. Mr Lynch Lets hope your God doesn't see this as aiding and abetting maybe you should pray for forgiveness just in case!

  20. Cynthia Leighton5:42 pm, April 17, 2011

    I went and read the article, which includes:

    '... Mum Sarah said: “There is a lot of controversy surrounding designer babies but I’m not interested in the colour of its eyes or the sex..." '

    Hmm ... its? Perhaps this one word provides insight?

  21. does this one word provide insight?? Please do explain.....