A MISSION IN LIFE
So you think you have an identity crisis. Tina doesn’t know if her parents had her out of pure lust and love, or she was created simply to cure her brother Tim. Now, many people in the world may have good reason to doubt whether their parents actually wanted them. But Tina can one-up most of those people. She is — or believes she is — a savior sibling, brought into this world for the sole purpose of saving her brother Tim.
Her parents, the characters Mr. and Mrs. Clark in TEST, are coy about it. Her father tells her that “you were born because your mother is a sexy wife.” Tina has her doubts.
Tina forges her identify around her perceived mission in life: to save her brother Tim.
LOSS OF PURPOSE
Tina is angry at the world for the injustice of her brother Tim’s condition. What’s more, the cure for Tim’s severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) — a cure that got him out of the medical bubble — is not working. The only hope is to find a suitable donor for a bone marrow transplant. But when crunch time comes and Tina is actually needed to save Tim’s life, Tina finds out that she is not the right genetic match.
This failure turns to despair. Tina is angry about her inability to save Tim’s life. What do you do when your purpose in life has been pulled out from under you? In Tina’s case, she stumbles through the way ahead, looking for some cause or even religion to hitch her life to.
MORAL SIDE OF THE ISSUE
The decision to have a savior sibling upsets the traditional conceptions of family planning and morality. The motives of Mr. and Mrs. Clark seem blatantly transparent — to save Tim’s life. And yet they are unwilling and unable to explain the whole truth to Tina.
Of course, throughout history, people have been having children for many inherently selfish reasons. Sometimes the reason is as simple as wanting a male heir or a playmate for an only child.
Tina is rough on the outside but highly sensitive and caring on the inside. She is a fragile young lady, looking for a way to belong and find a new purpose in life after the death of her brother Tim. The moral question is this: as a savior sibling, was Tina robbed of the chance to have a different type of life. Is the life she has not her own?
THE MECHANICS OF IT
The term “savior sibling” refers to the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and other forms of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to create a sibling for the purpose of providing biological material (bone marrow, blood, etc.) that can help treat or cure an existing terminally ill child. But a savior sibling can also be conceived naturally, of course. This is what Mr. Conrad tells Tina. Or a savior sibling can even be the older brother or sister of an ill child. In this case, the sibling would have a say in the decision-making, and their consent would be voluntary.