It is a generally accepted that animals born through sexual reproduction carry DNA, the genetic instructions for growth, from two parents.
However, on April 6th, 2016, the world’s first baby with DNA from three people was born to two Jordanian parents in Mexico. The mother of the baby, has Leigh Syndrome, a genetic disorder passed through mitochondrial DNA. This genetic mutation caused her to have four miscarriages. It was also the cause of death of two of her children. The couple wished for a biologically related child that did not carry the fatal disorder, so they seeked the help of Dr. John Zhang.
Dr. Zhang, a doctor at New Hope Fertility Centre in New York City, knew of a procedure to help the couple, but to the couple’s displeasure, the procedure was banned in the United States. According to “World’s first baby born from new procedure using DNA of three people” published by The Guardian, the procedure required Zhang to insert the nucleus of the mother’s egg into an egg of a healthy donor. The genetically altered egg was then fertilized with the father’s DNA.
This procedure is difficult and after a similar procedure failed in the 1990’s, the U.S. banned the procedure. The couple was determined to have a baby, so they decided to have the procedure done in Mexico, where it is not banned.
This is a controversial procedure because some argue that it is tampering with mother nature. People fear it could give parents too much power over the genetics of their offspring.
Grace Chendana ‘18 of the Gateway to Medicine Major, believes that “it is unethical and tampering with mother nature because sometimes things happen for a reason and some people may not be meant to be biological parents. I don’t believe in the forced creation by unnatural means. The consequences can be greater such as unknown genetic disorders, and psychological issues for the offspring as a result of this tampering method.”
On the other hand, many scientists such as Dr. Zhang, parents and couples, believe that this method is ethical. As reported by CBS, Dr. Zhang told the magazine, New Scientist, “To save lives is the ethical thing to do.” Many people cannot have children due to their genetics, which is out of their control. This new procedure, could be a solution for these people.
Mrs. O’Brien, an AP Biology and AP Psychology teacher, offered a new point of view, as she voiced her opinion that concerned more of the children than the parents, “We shouldn’t be tampering with mother nature, but if a child has genetic mutations, I think the procedure is okay; the children shouldn’t be suffering.” The children are the ones who have the risk of being born with a genetic mutations, which could be prevented through this procedure.
Under normal circumstances, if the child or the mother has no genetic or hereditary diseases, then this process is unnecessary. However, the procedure could be seen as a potential solution to children being born with genetic disorders.