Having A Baby To Save My Child Review

February 16, 2010 by  
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‘You have a really nice embryo,’ if you’re told this at a nightclub, it’s probably time to start running. If the news is delivered by a doctor determining your child’s future health however, you’d be a more eager recipient.

This film, following two British families trying for a miracle “bone marrow match” baby to save their current children from an early death is just that – depressing, morbid and unpredictable.

And no – the warm Northern narrator doesn’t help.

The documentary starts in September 2008 where we join four-year-old David, suffering from a life-threatening disease whereby his body attacks his bone marrow making him unable to produce blood. As most sufferers don’t survive until adulthood, time is not on David’s parents side to find a donor. As his father Tom says, “it’s like you’re given a ticking clock.”

As in all cases, David’s best chance of a tissue match is from a sibling. As his sister’s isn’t suitable and there’s no donor suitable on the bone marrow list, the family resort to IVF treatment.

Since 2006 this treatment, costing £7,000 each time, has resulted in fewer than one dozen babies born and with the correct tissue match. A risky business, to say the least.

The programme is keen to throw these gloomy facts in your face – only one quarter of women over 30 conceive successfully via IVF, for example.

Following the ‘No news is good news’ format of well, the news, this documentary attempts to plant a seed of moral panic that may lead to another overgrown case of mass hysteria. As if swine flu didn’t do that job.

Also in need of a bone marrow transplant is one-year-old Alex. The tragic loss of his parents’ 11-year-old daughter to the disease has affected their 14-year-old daughter especially; the film is as emotive as it is factual. A good excuse to adopt journalists as therapists, many tears are shed on screen as well as numerous defense mechanisms.

“We’ve been accused of creating spare part babies, but we haven’t made this decision lightly,” says Alison, mother of David. “If I was a builder, I’d build my son a house”, justifies his father.

With not much changed by December 2009, the programme ends with no real conclusion. Rather, it masks itself in stats and stories when it is really another excuse for shock reality TV.

This regrettably happens with too many documentaries these days; it would have been nice to get to the heart of the matter. Or hear from one bearded scientist, at least.