November 2, 2020

Parents in India Create "Savior Sibling" to Save Son

photo credit: Andrew Malone / Flickr
Kavya Solanki became the first child in India created purely to save a sibling's life. After the procedure was successful, ethicists fear the popularization of a new practice that views unborn children as a commodity.

Sahdev and Aparna Solanki's son, Abhijit, was born with thalassemia major. The life-threatening disorder causes blood to have less hemoglobin and blood cells than normal. As a result, the blood will not carry oxygen as effectively.

“Every 20-22 days, he needed 350ml to 400ml blood. By the age of six, he’d had 80 transfusions,” Sahdev told the BBC. “Abhijit was born after my first daughter. We were a happy family. He was 10 months old when we learnt that he was thalassaemic. We were devastated. He was weak, his immune system was compromised and he often became ill.”

The family learned that a bone marrow transplant could cure Abhijit, but they could not find a match. When Abhijit's father learned about savior siblings, they contacted fertility specialist Dr. Manish Banker, who spent six months creating and screening embryos to match Abhijit.

It is assumed, as is often the case with embryos created for IVF, that the unused embryos were destroyed.

“After Kavya’s birth, we had to wait another 16 to 18 months so that her weight could increase to 10-12kg,” Banker told the BBC. “The bone marrow transplant was done in March. Then we waited for a few months to see whether the recipient had accepted the transplant before announcing it.”

Not only does this practice potentially destroy human beings; it also creates a human being who must take on the risk of donating tissue from their body without being able to properly give consent.

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