The Miracle of Molly

In the Fall of 2000, Denver’s Lisa and Jack Nash genetically engineered a baby in an effort to save their dying little girl. Pastors and pundits said it was the first step down a stem-cell-paved road to Hell. Five years later, the Nashes give us an exclusive look at Heaven.

August 2005

Science Sucks

Months after returning home from Camp Sunshine, the Nashes learned they qualified to be a Wagner and Hughes test case. Things were looking up; Molly's platelets were stable, albeit low, and science seemed to be working in their favor. Lisa entered under the care of the two doctors who had spent months in the laboratory perfecting the tests, but they warned Jack and Lisa that the science was experimental and far from a sure thing.

Molly was 2 and a half when Lisa completed her first round of fertility drugs. Lisa produced multiple eggs that were extracted from her ovaries by needle and fertilized in a petri dish. Three days later, Hughes screened for FA and checked the tissue type. The tests took less than 24 hours. Only one embryo met the criteria: a disease-free bone marrow match for Molly. The embryo was reinserted into Lisa's uterus. Sixteen days passed. The Nashes prayed and hoped and waited, until they received the crushing news that the in vitro was unsuccessful.

Doctors had told the Nashes to expect Molly's bone marrow to malfunction when she was about 3 years old. "Sure enough," Lisa says, "the day Molly turned 3, her platelets started falling and her red blood cells were larger—an indication of bone marrow failure."

Before the Nashes could repeat the PGD process, Dr. Hughes, whom the Nashes then saw as Molly's only hope, stopped returning their phone calls and e-mails. Months and countless unanswered messages later, some news reached Jack and Lisa: Hughes was being investigated for using federal funds for embryonic research, which would have been illegal according to a 1996 federal law. Hughes—and Molly—were caught in the crosshairs of a politically charged debate and the public's apprehension about embryonic research. When the Nashes finally spoke with Hughes, he informed them that he was off to the private sector and could no longer help. The Nashes' cell samples and corresponding research remained locked in the bowels of Georgetown University, which now wanted nothing to do with Hughes' research, nor anything to do with Molly. In August 1998, Dr. Hughes sent what would be his final e-mail to the Nashes: "I am sorry. Science sucks sometimes. Go on without me."