If you’re here to read about Olivia and Andrew Densley, the ‘selfish’ parents who ‘genetically engineered’ a baby for the sole purpose of pilfering its body to save the life of its older sibling, move along, because that’s an over-simplification of the issue.
For me, the real issue of their tale is that parenting is full of brutal calls for which nothing can prepare you, and you can never know what you would do in the exact same situation.
The Densleys, from Melbourne, shared their story on 60 Minutes last night, describing how the illness Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome has affected their family. The disease has a strong genetic component, and two out of the couple’s six children have been diagnosed with it. Luckily, Cooper, who was four when he was diagnosed, was able to receive life-saving bone marrow from his younger sibling.
But soon after that, the Densleys fell pregnant with their fifth child, Fletcher. Dashing their hopes, they discovered when he was also diagnosed with the illness that none of his siblings was a donor match.
And so, the Densleys made a decision: to have a sixth child, via IVF, that would be a bone marrow match. Yes, pretty much a ‘baby with bone marrow benefits’.
The Densleys admited that they were in a terrible position, agonising about their options, and it almost broke them. But ultimately they made a tough call to go ahead with a planned sixth child who would be a match.
“I have thought about down the track when the child is older and it does hear about why it was conceived, I do worry about that about what I would say and how the child would feel,” Olivia said on 60 Minutes.
“But at the moment I feel like it’s not a bad thing. I feel like we can positively say to that child, ‘Yes we did have you for some of your bone marrow but it’s a good thing because we knew you were gonna be okay’.”
Of course, the courage of those convictions has been a roller coaster for the Densleys, and I don’t envy them one little bit; especially after the negative reaction they received online.