Watch CBS News

A Genetically Screened Baby Saved the Life of His Sister

In a case that has made medical history, a six-year-old girl is now winning her battle against a rare genetic disease, thanks to the help of her infant brother.

Molly Nash could have died without a bone marrow transplant. Her only chance was to find a perfect donor match. Her parents decided to have another child, one created in a test tube, and genetically screened to make sure he was free from the same disease. Adam Nash was born in august. Blood from his umbilical cord was transplanted into Molly's bone marrow. No one knew if it would work. But now, doctors at the University of Minnesota say it has.

Lisa and John Nash are the parents who decided to have another baby in order to save the life of their six-year-old daughter. Dr. John Wagner is a professor of pediatrics and scientific director of Clinical Research of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota. He's also an internationally recognized leader in the field of unrelated bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplantation.

Doctors at the University of Minnesota say that six-year-old Molly Nash is now creating her own bone marrow. It's the result of a history making procedure, the first time genetic screening has been used to create a life to help save the life of another. Adam Nash is now two months old. He was created in a test tube, after genetic screening determined he was free of the same disease that almost certainly would turned to leukemia, and killed Molly within a couple of years. Lisa and Jack Nash live in Englewood, Colorado. They came to the University of Minnesota to undergo the procedure that now appears to be working.

Six-year-old Molly Nash has a often fatal genetic disorder, Fanconi-anemia. It's a progressive disease for which the only proven therapy is a bone marrow transplant. Molly's parents who had decided they wanted more children-- were given the opportunity to take part in a genetic experiment, one they knew could expose them to criticism and raise concerns about bio-ethics. They decided to go ahead and try a new procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to have a second child who would be both free of Molly's disease and a suitable bone marrow donor. They succeeded, and two months ago Adam Nash was born. In late September, doctors at the University of Minnesota took blood cells from his umbilical cord to replace Molly's defective marrow. The treatment gave Molly an 85% chance to beat the disease. It's a technique that raises many ethical questions but as Molly and Adam's mother Lisa puts it, "We wanted a healthy child and it doesn't hurt him to save his sister's life." On Wednesday morning, doctors took a sample from Molly's bone marrow to determine whether Adam's cells were taking hold. They were.

©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.