Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"The Best of You"

So in my Biology 100 class the other day, we were discussing genetics and genetic mutations and our teacher showed us a clip from a movie I am sure I have seen but I can't remember the title.

The scene shows a couple sit down with a guy in a labcoat who tells them that they have 4 fertilized embryos, 2 boys and 2 girls, in incubation that the couple can decide between. He said that these human embryos were orginally combinations of the two parents gametes but had since been genetically modified to determine things like skin color, balding rate, height, intelligence, and a bunch of other stuff.

The potential parents protested and said they wanted to leave some things up to chance. The doctor replied, "Don't worry. It's still you, just the best of you."

This was a little creepy, and I thought the idea was an interesting one: babies made to order. I kind of brushed it off as science fiction until I saw another clip (also in my Biology class) that really brought things home. It was about Carlos Boozer, the Jazz player, and how his first born son was born with sickle cell anemia. In order to give their son a chance at  a normal life, they decided to give him bone marrow transplants. An operation like this requires a very specific genetic match, the best being a sibling. So they decided to have another kid in order to get a donor for their first son.

This is the eye opener: they didn't want to role the dice again, so they went to a lab so that they could pick their next child. They got 24 embryos from mom and dad and then they genetically tested them to see which ones would be a bone-marrow match for the Boozer's son. Two embryos were chosen, the rest discarded, and 9 months later, twins were born. These twins were guaranteed to be sickle cell anemia free and to be perfect matches to their older brother's bone marrow.

Where am I going with all this? Well, what if the Boozers (or anyone) had wanted to change something less life-threatening, like crooked teeth? What if this procedure was advanced enough and cheap enough for anyone to afford? Within the next few decades we could easily have a choice to have a disease free, straight toothed, smart child. Guaranteed.

What would you do if you had the choice? Would you leave it up to chance or would you go for the 'best of you'?


  1. Wow the story of Boozer's family was just like a movie that came out last year called "My Sister's Keeper." The oldest daughter had leukemia and the parents decided to genetically alter a child in order for her to help the daughter with cancer. It was a very touching movie.
    After watching that movie I too thought about how it would be to make a child how you want it. Recently I've been talking with a friend of mine who she and her husband have decided to have another child and they want a boy and how they are researching ways to make sure that happens.
    With all of this on mind and to answer your question I would leave it up to chance.
    The disabilities and struggles that a person may be born with are for their benefit as well as others around them. Trying to make the perfect healthiest child is like Frankenstein, its trying to be God, and we aren't. And although a child may be born with crooked teeth, or MS or more prone to get cancer it doesn't mean I won't do all that's in my power to fix that. But the power that I have should come after the baby is born and is in my stewardship, not before. Everything should be in agreement with what God wants, not what I want.

  2. I argee with you completely. Its gonna be tough though if everyone else is picking their babies and all the 'random' children are at a disadvantage.