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Baby Born to Couple Who Had Child to Save Other Daughter From Cancer

April 6, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A healthy baby girl was born to a couple who conceived the child to serve as a bone marrow donor for their cancer-stricken daughter.

Abe and Mary Ayala revealed eight weeks ago that they had conceived the baby, named Marissa Eve, as a last resort to save the life of their 18-year- old daughter, Anissa, who is dying of leukemia.

The baby weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces at birth Tuesday night at Queen of the Valley Hospital in suburban West Covina, the couple’s niece, Lydia Sanchez, said Thursday.

″She’s beautiful, she looks just like Anissa,″ Sanchez said.

The Ayalas chose Eve as a middle name ″because Eve means life,″ she said.

Fetal tests have shown the baby’s marrow is compatible with Anissa’s and doctors said the transplant could occur in six months. The chance the transplant will cure Anissa has been reported as between 70 and 80 percent.

Anissa’s leukemia has remained stable, said Dr. Patricia Konrad, who will perform the surgery. The wait is planned primarily so the baby will grow and enough marrow can be taken from Marissa Eve to give her older sister a fighting chance.

The case drew considerable attention as medical ethicists voiced qualms about creating one child to save another. They said the baby was not concieved as an end in itself, but for a utilitarian purpose.

The middle-aged couple said they were hurt by such talk, and that they would love the baby even if it proved to be an incompatible bone marrow donor for their stricken daughter.

Almost 24 ounces of marrow would be taken from an adult donor, if one was available. Konrad said she would be lucky to get half that amount even after freezing the umbilical cord to use its cells to supplement the marrow transplant.

The baby faces little risk, Konrad said. The procedure requires the infant to be put under general anesthesia to block pain while a needle is inserted, usually twice, into the hip bone to remove the marrow.

Leukemia, a cancer of white blood cells, typically is treated by killing blood-producing cells with chemotherapy or radiation. Marrow from a matching donor, usually a sibling, is then transplanted into the leukemia patient so the healthy stem cells can produce healthy blood cells.

After waiting almost two years, the couple said the National Marrow Donor Program had failed to find a suitable living donor for Anissa, with the odds reported to be about 1 in 20,000.

Abe Ayala told The Associated Press in February, ″We just can’t stand idly by and do nothing about it and wait for Anissa to die.″

The odds were even longer when the Ayalas, who are in their mid-40s, decided to gamble in the fall 1988 by trying to have another child.

Ayala had to undergo an operation to reverse a vasectomy he had 16 years earlier, with about a 50 percent chance of success; women of Mrs. Ayala’s age have a 73 percent chance of conception and there was only a 25 percent chance the baby would prove to be a compatible donor.

Abe told reporters in February, ″This is our miracle baby.″

The Ayalas live in the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut with Anissa and a 19- year-old son, Airon.

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