Is Breeding Kids to Save Others Ethical?

          Thirteen- year-old Jordan Flynn needed a bone marrow order to survive. She has a rare disease called Fanconi anemia that destroys bone marrow and raises the risk for cancer.

The 3 girls with Fanconi anemia and their mother
Jordan, Jorga and Julia Flynn with their mom, Doreen – Photo Rock

         Jordan’s mother Doreen was desperate for a solution. She and her husband were unable to find a match for Jordan.  Jordan has two brothers – siblings being the best chance for a match – but neither proved to be a successful candidate to save Jordan. Doreen believes that federal law, which prohibits the buying and selling of body parts stands in the way of the thousands of people who need a variety of transplants. So she is heading a campaign to overturn the law through the court system.

          We have no argument with that either way. The ethical and legal issues are too complex for us to go into here. It’s the rest of Jordan’s and Doreen’s story, however, that generates tremendous ethical issues for us. You may have read about this story in USA Today or seen it on Rock Center on NBC.

          Eight years ago Doreen and her then-husband decided to try in vitro fertilization to create a new sibling- you might say a custom made match – for Jordan. There was a match all right, in the worst possible way. Jordan’s mom gave birth to twin girls, both with Fanconi anemia. After the Flynns divorced, Doreen found herself a single mom with five kids, three of whom had a life-threatening disease.  

         “I was so upset. I blamed myself,” Doreen declared on Rock Center. Amazingly, NBC’s in-house medical journalist Dr. Nancy Snyderman, whom we both respect for her reporting, asked, “Why?”

          “Because it was my fault.”


          “Because of the way their father and I had them. We chose to bring them into the world. And instead, all I did was bring in two more sick kids.” It seems Doreen Flynn understands the ethical issues better than Snyderman does.

          All three of the Flynn girls have been gravely ill. While the symptoms are not yet severe, the prognoses for survival past the age of 18 are grim.

          The good news is that Jordan received a transplant in May. While only time will determine the outcome, her chances are good. But what about her younger sisters? We can only wish the twins great success in finding donors.

          In our book, Enough of Us, we make the case that every pregnancy is a roll of the dice. There are no unselfish reasons for having kids. (If you can think of an unselfish reason, please let us know). If a kid’s life is a success, the gamble paid off. But if a child suffers, it’s not usually those who conceived him who suffer the most. It’s gambling with someone else’s life.

          This brings us back to the Flynns. Doreen and her husband gambled three times. The first gamble led to Jordan’s predicament. Then, in order to right a difficult situation, they rolled the dice again. Sorry – and the entire Flynn family has our sincerest sympathies – but conceiving children is the most selfish thing that otherwise moral people commonly do.

          What’s your opinion?


  1. Totally AGREE with you both! At first I thought this was going to be the story about the other family that has a movie about them called ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ I believe. I felt the SAME way about them too! It’s like basically conceiving nothing more than a ‘Clone’ from which to harvest body parts! Only the ‘Clone’ has a brain and a personality all its own…called a PERSON. If the ‘person’ wasn’t initially wanted, planned for as another addition to the family, then the parents have no business conceiving another person(child)merely for desperately needed organs, blood,etc. How can anybody claim that child was truly WANTED? How would the parents really feel knowing that the primary reason for them being born was to hopefully ‘save’ somebody else and not just for being another ‘bouncing bundle of JOY’? And good Lord, don’t let the kid that needs the transplant DIE anyway! How could anybody actually think that the parents wouldn’t secretly(or not so secretly)carry a level of RESENTMENT toward the ‘Savior’ child for the rest of their LIVES! Also, I would think that the ‘Savior’ child would probably carry some level of GUILT that they might never shake. If ‘Savior’ child was born Ok, there’s now the high risk of this person also BREEDING someday!

  2. Thanks for your reply to our post. We can only hope that Doreen and her ex have the awareness to make their twins – who now need benefactors of their own – feel loved and wanted. We often hear about parents who try tactics like these with great success. Unforunately, we don’t here enough about the failed attempts. Thanks so much for visiting the Enough of Us site and look for the forthcoming print version of our book.

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