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Ethicists challenged to consider using IVF embryos to save siblings

The creation of IVF embryos to produce children who could save the life of a sibling has sparked a national debate, with ethicists branding the move troubling and potentially dangerous.

A Melbourne couple with a terminally ill toddler have gained approval to screen IVF embryos for a "perfect match" sibling who could provide life-saving umbilical cord blood. Three other couples are undergoing similar treatment and many others have sought treatment overseas, according to Professor Robert Jansen, of the Sydney IVF clinic.

Catholic bioethicist Nick Tonti-Filippini said the Melbourne couple only had a one per cent chance of having a "perfect match" baby, and the resources used on IVF would be better directed to research using the patient's own cells in treatment.

"I am concerned about producing a child as a kind of reserve donor for another child . . . it is the use of a child that is troubling," he said.

Fr Norman Ford SDB, of the Catholic hospital's Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics, was concerned a significant number of embryos would be created and destroyed in the search for the "perfect match".

Caroline Chisholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics

Canberra Times

18 Apr 2002