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When Little People Just Want a Child Like Them, Naomi Takes a Stand
By Moira McMahon, Researcher
In Episode 306, Slip Slidin' Away, Curtis and Sally Donovan arrive excited and ready to have their first child via IVF. They want a healthy, biological child that might look just like Sally. Or just like Curtis. And grow to be about four feet tall.
The Donovans are dwarves. They both have a genetic marker which limits their growth and may create other physical characteristics such as an average sized torso, but short limbs. Mentally and emotionally, they are identical to people of average height. And they have the same needs and desires. They would like to have their own biological child—who is a dwarf.
Naomi has selected embryos for IVF before—to insure that a genetic disease doesn't get passed on. But she's never selected for what she considers a Designer Baby—a child created specifically for desirable physical characteristics. She is not warm to the idea of starting with a dwarf.
For Curtis and Sally, it's about having a child that fits into their family and their community. Just as a four-foot tall person would face challenges in an average-height family, a six-foot tall person would face challenges in a Little Person family.
In the end, the dwarf embryos have another marker too, one which increases the chance of developing cancer. Naomi was swayed to implant the dwarf embryos, but she will not implant an embryo she knows has an increased chance of cancer.
The Donovans are disappointed not to get exactly what they want, but agree to have the healthiest embryos implanted—in this case, the ones without the marker for Dwarfism.
Naomi didn't really give the Donovans what they wanted. She gave the Donovans what she was comfortable with.
Did she do the right thing?
What would you do?
Should Embryo Selection Be Used Only to Diminish Disease or Should We Open the Door for Parents to Decide Height, Weight, Hair Color and Intelligence?
Where Is the Line?