Some day, when she is bigger, we hope that Marissa Ayala's parents and her big sister will be able to tell her the wonderful story of how Marissa was brought into the world to save her sister's life with a gift of bone marrow. Anissa, 19, was dying of leukemia, but her recovery prospects are better than 70 percent, thanks to the procedure last week by which marrow was withdrawn from the 14-month-old baby and transferred to Anissa.
Hearing the story of her wonderful birth will make Marissa know she was wanted and is loved. Yet ethicists are divided on the question of making one child to save another. "The ideals of our society are that we are to treat each person as an end and never merely as a means," commented Dr. Robert Levine, of Yale University's School of Medicine. "It seems to me that when a primary motive for conceiving a child is to produce tissue or an organ, we are getting very close to seeing this new being as a means to another end."
Children are conceived for all sorts of reasons, and for no reason. Some babies are born to please in-laws, or to bolster a shaky marriage, or because the father of daughters still hopes for a son. Surely these are not morally better reasons than Abe and Mary Ayala's reason for conceiving Marissa.