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Baby Brother's Stem Cells Could Save Older Sibling With Leukemia


"...stem cells have been tested and are a match..."

Samuel (left) and Nathan Shorey. (Photo via Daily Mail)

Mildly like the book and film "My Sister's Keeper" -- except without the litigation for medical emancipation and expectation to donate a kidney -- a family in the U.K. has a baby boy who could save the life of his older brother should he have a leukemia relapse.

Stem cells were taken from little Samuel Shorey's umbilical cord in the hopes that they could be used by Nathan, 3, should his leukemia return, according to the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail has more from the mother of the two boys, Melanie:

"As soon as you hear the word leukaemia, you fear the worst.

"Nathan is currently doing well and I do try to remain positive, but there is the worry in the back of my mind that his condition could relapse.

"Samuel's stem cells have been tested and are a match for Nathan so can be used if needed."

According to the Daily Mail, Nathan is doing well, although he is currently undergoing 19 months of maintenance chemotherapy.

Although Samuel was not conceived with the purpose of helping Nathan -- the stem cells were taken from his umbilical cord merely because they were available and just in case -- the idea of having a second child to help a sick sibling went mainstream with Jodi Picoult's novel "My Sister's Keeper" in 2003 and a feature film was based on the book in 2009.

In 2004, USA Today reported that one geneticist alone helped more than two dozen couples tissue-type embryos in order to have a child who could help a sibling with leukemia or a rare form of anemia. In the U.K., having a child with the intent that he or she be a stem cell donor for a sick sibling was banned in 2002. USA Today reported professor of law and medicine at the University of Minnesota Susan Wolf as saying measures should be enacted to protect children from being used for this purpose until they are of age to decide to donate themselves.

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