Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister's Keeper


My Sister’s Keeper:  An Heir and A Spare

A sales representative of Cord Life Philippines has approached me.  She discussed what their company was all about.  Their company serves as storage of umbilical cord blood for as long as twenty years.  The cord blood will serve as a stem cell source in case a kid grows up sick and needed a compatible body part.

That happened a week before I decided to read this book which has been in my bookshelf for almost a year now.

Anna was conceived for the sole purpose of having a compatible source of blood for her sick older sister, Kate, who has leukemia.  She was genetically engineered to have all the recessive traits in order not to have the same disease as her sister.  The first time she donated blood for her sister was immediately after she was born.  And it has been like that until she was thirteen years old when she sued her parents for medical emancipation.

Anna has identified herself with a vessel.  She is nothing but a bin of body parts for her sister.  She lives for another person literally.  She was not given a choice to be otherwise. 

Anna has been subjected to medical diagnostic tests and procedures as her sister who had the worst kind of leukemia.  She never said no before until the time when her mother presumed that she is going to donate her kidney for her sister when her sister had total renal failure and may be the cause of her death. 

The book dealt with how all the members of the family are handling a family member’s sickness.  It has come to my attention that everyone in the family forms his or her own reaction to this kind of burden.  It takes its toll on everyone.  Feelings of self-pity, of guilt, of being rejected, of being taken for granted, of wanting to escape and so much more may be all present but not uttered like what is happening to the family in the story.

How far will the science of medicine go in order to prolong life?  For the most part of the book, it seems that science has done everything except address the impact of the illness to the person and the family.  And most of the scenes in the story gave a negative portrayal of how medicine handles the illness but not the people involved – especially the donor’s part in the healing process. 

At the near end of the story, a reader might think that the heroine may have had her way afterall.  Anna knew that it was not an easy decision for her to make.  She knew that by not giving her kidney, she might have saved her life but might have killed her sister in the process. 

The medical extra-ordinary means worked out after all in the end.  Organ donation for someone like Kate who is almost at the end of her road and almost ready to kick the bucket may not be as fruitful as that for others.  But because her sister’s unforeseen tragic death, she lived for the next couple of years.  If Kate was to fall in line like all others for an organ donation, she would have been voted out of the list.  But because of her sister Anna, she didn’t have to fall in line because a vessel has been conceived solely for the purpose of being a source of organs. 

Medicine has saved a lot of lives throughout the years.  There is no doubt that scientists, doctors and researchers have done so much for humanity.  I do have doubts with genetic engineering.  There is something wrong with manipulating the codes of a human being.  There is something wrong with the fact that man gets to decide who gets to live.  We opt for a perfect healthy child.  We opt for perfection for ourselves.  But in the story, one’s perfection is for the benefit of another is very controversial.  A person who has been gifted with a soul and conscience is subjected to the inhumane practice of medicine. 

The book may be fiction but it presented so many realistic possibilities.

Cord Life has offered me the initial and safest option just in case my baby needed it in the future.  I don’t know if it’s a sign that I had to encounter a sales rep for stem cell medical option in my OB’s office and having to read this book.  I have to knock on wood on this one because I couldn’t afford the price for having my baby’s cord blood to be stored in their facility. 


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