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Baby may one day save brother

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

22 February 2002

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[BioNews, London] A British woman who became pregnant with a baby specially conceived to help save the life of her five year-old son who has leukaemia has given birth to a girl. The baby girl is the second in the world to be born following a genetic selection process that ensured she would be free from the leukaemia and a tissue match for her older sibling. The first, Adam Nash, was born two years ago in the US.

The embryo screening process took place in the Reproductive Genetics Institute - the same Chicago clinic in which the Nashes were helped to have their baby boy born free from a disease called Fanconi's anaemia. Dr Mohammed Taranissi, head of the private Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London, was involved in the treatment of the British couple, which entailed screening their IVF embryos for the leukaemia. Affected embryos were discarded, and further testing took place on those remaining to see if they would be a match for the older brother.

It is hoped that blood taken from the baby's umbilical cord will provide stem cells that can later be donated to her brother if he suffers a relapse. Dr Taranissi says that he is 98 per cent sure of a perfect tissue match.

The couple say that their baby is not a 'designer baby' but a 'much longed-for child who brings with her into the world, as an extra gift, cells capable of saving her elder brother'. Dr Taranissi claimed that it was 'absurd' that this baby should be labelled 'designer', commenting that 'nobody who had seen this couple when the bay was delivered, the joy and tears, could doubt that this baby will be loved and cherished for itself'. His clinic is waiting for approval from the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to allow it to offer the procedure in the UK.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 22 February 2002   Date Updated: 11 September 2004
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