TV: Saviour Siblings

Having a Baby to Save My Child
BBC1, Tuesday 16th February, 10.35pm-11.15pm, available after broadcast via the iPlayer.

“Having A Baby To Save My Child follows two couples over two years as they take a controversial route to find cures for their critically-ill children.

Alison and Thomas, from Sheffield, and David and Samantha, from York, both have a child who needs a bone marrow donor to cure their life-threatening disease, but have found no match through the usual route of the international register.

Now, with advances in IVF techniques, it is possible to have a new baby unaffected by the disease and who will be a perfect tissue match, and therefore a donor, for their ill sibling.

For Alison and Thomas, time is running out for four-year-old David, who has Fanconi Anaemia – a degenerative disease of the bone marrow. As practising Catholics, the idea of using IVF techniques to “create” a child to cure another has created a moral dilemma.

Alison says: “We’re trying to choose a baby that’s not only a baby for us but a baby that will help David. I guess ethically there are a lot of strong opinions about whether we should or shouldn’t be having a go at doing this.”

David’s and Samantha’s 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, was diagnosed with the same disease in 2007. By the time she was 11, she urgently needed a bone marrow transplant but, with no matched donor available, they were forced to use her dad’s marrow – which was only a 50% match. A few weeks after the transplant, Jessica died.

Now the couple face losing their two-year-old son, Alex, who also suffers from the disease. The film follows them as they fight for NHS funding to pay for the treatment.

David says: “We’re not talking about ‘I want a baby with blonde hair and blue eyes’, that’s not what we are talking about. We’re talking about a child that is healthy.””


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