Sometimes this so-called "gene therapy" is necessary in order to reduce the risk of genetic illnesses that a child can contract through both biological parents. But the case of Anna Fitzgerald, a thirteen year old "designer baby", is different.
Anna is the main character in Jody Picoult's novel "My Sister's Keeper". In short, after Anna's older sister, Kate, was diagnosed with leukemia in toddlerhood, and her younger brother Jesse was not a genetic match for a bone marrow transplant, the Fitzgerald's thought they were going to watch their daughter die. That is...until they came across gene therapy. Through the elimination process, Sara Fitzgerald was implanted with a genetically modified embryo, a child created unnaturally that would be the perfect match for Kate's blood type, bone marrow type, etc. This child is Anna, who was given life in order to be a living organ supply for her sister. Whenever Kate needs blood, Anna is poked with a needle. When Kate needed bone marrow, Anna was sent into surgery without hesitation. Well, now Kate needs a kidney, and if she doesn't, she will die.
The book begins with Anna as the narrator, she is requesting the right to deny surgery in order to remove one of her kidneys, which would be given to her sister. Anna is fighting for rights to her own body, she wants to be emancipated from her parents. Throughout the novel, although Anna narrates most of the chapters (each chapter is narrated by a different character with a different viewpoint), she never discusses WHY she wants the freedom to choose whether or not to give her sister something, a kidney or whatever it is, that could save her life. The reader doesn't find out until the end that Anna is fighting for her right to choose because her sister doesn't want the kidney. Kate is tired of fighting leukemia, and knows that her parents wouldn't allow her to die without a fight. In the end, Anna is doing what her sister requested, she's not going to save her life because Kate doesn't want to be saved.
I have to tell you, the end of this book is the saddest sequence of events I've ever read. I finished this book on the train home from Toronto. I had just say goodbye to my boyfriend for the next 2 and a half months and I wasn't crying because I left him (sorry hunny), I was crying because of the ending of this book. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I will say this- the bond between siblings is unbreakable. I know that I would do anything for my sister, but I'm not sure if I would have the courage to watch her willingly lose a battle to cancer like Anna would. For a thirteen year old, she knows much more about herself than most people learn in a lifetime.