Belgian justice ruled in favor of a couple of parents, facing a Belgian clinic specializing in fertility. The establishment was sanctioned for having been responsible for the in vitro fertilization of two “drug babies”, which turned out to be incompatible donors.
A few months ago, an unexpected verdict was handed down by the Belgian justice. A chamber of the Brussels Court of First Instance “overturned Belgian and international case law according to which the birth of a healthy baby cannot be analyzed as damage to be repaired”, report The world. This decision comes in a very specific case.
In 2000, a Madrid couple decides to embark on a project of in vitro fertilization, to design a “baby medicine”. The couple already have a child, a little boy, but he has a genetic hemoglobin disease, beta thassemia. In order for him to heal permanently, he must receive bone marrow donation “from a person not carrying the gene concerned and compatible with the recipient”. Not being compatible, the parents of the young boy make the decision, with the support of their doctor, to resort to a “baby savior” or “drug baby” through IVF. They therefore go to the Fertility Clinic of the Flemish University of Brussels (VUB), “one of the most renowned European institutions”, say our colleagues.
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Two incompatible “drug babies”
Three embryos are created, only one of which is diagnosed as a potential donor. But nothing goes as planned. The medical team is mistaken and implants in the uterine cavity of the woman not one but two embryos. Result: two twins are born, and unfortunately neither of them is a compatible donor for the sick child. The couple do not lose hope and continue their approach in Madrid. A new fertilization is attempted, it is a success, which leads to the birth of a third baby, who is this time a compatible donor.
The couple demand redress
Faced with the vicissitudes they experienced, the couple of parents went to the Belgian courts to demand a sanction against the health establishment and “compensation for moral and material damage”. And that’s what they get. The court awards moral damages of 27,000 euros to the mother and 11,000 euros to the father. The couple also obtained material compensation of 25,000 euros, “on account of the ‘shock’ suffered when he learned that the twins could not serve as donors and the fear and risks” “. This decision is a great first and inevitably it questions ethics.
According to the words of health law researcher at Anver University Fien De Meyer, collected by LeMonde, this should not lead to “an instrumentalisation” drug babies. It is important to keep in mind that the newborn is first and foremost a human person, and that a birth is in most cases a “happy event”, concludes the specialist to our colleagues.