Attitudes of Chinese couples in Hong Kong regarding using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and human leukocyte antigens (HLA) typing to conceive a ‘Saviour Child’

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate Hong Kong couples' attitudes and concerns about using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and human leukocyte antigens (HLA) typing to conceive a disease-free and tissue-compatible ‘Saviour Child (SC)’ to save an afflicted sibling.

Methods

Two cohorts of Chinese couples, one with natural pregnancies and the other receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF) services, were studied using a structured questionnaire.

Results

Although most couples believed that embryos possess moral rights, they considered it acceptable to reproduce a donor child if it was safe for the child, and tissue transplantation was the only available treatment for the sick sibling. Most couples believed that the donor child would not suffer adverse physical or psychological effects but rather would gain positive psychological benefits, and opined that parents using PGD/HLA-typing suffer sacrificially for their children. In response to one specific question, one-third of the couples agreed to use the donor child as a lifetime organ donor and supported the use of PGD for non-medical gender selection. One-quarter were willing to reject PGD/HLA-typing because of its potential for non-medical genetic enhancement.

Conclusion

Probably influenced by the Chinese tradition of strong familism, couples in Hong Kong generally show positive attitudes towards using PGD/HLA-typing to reproduce a ‘SC’ to save a sibling affected with life-threatening diseases amenable to treatment with genetically compatible tissue.

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