London, June 19 (Reuters): A British woman has given birth to a son after receiving fertility treatment in the US to ensure the baby was genetically matched to help cure an older brother who suffers from a rare form of anaemia.
Michelle Whitaker, of Derbyshire in central England, had in-vitro fertilisation and screening to select an embryo with matching tissue at a clinic in Chicago to help her older son Charlie. She had been refused permission for the treatment in Britain on ethical grounds.
The birth of Jamie on Monday has been billed as Britain’s first “designer baby” but Dr Lana Rechitsky of the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago where Whitaker was treated said that description is completely wrong. “These are not designer babies and we are not introducing anything new. What we are doing is trying to choose from a few different embryos the one which is normal and which can save the life of the sibling,” she told BBC radio.
Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which oversees the industry, vetoed the treatment because Charlie did not have a hereditary illness. “We have particular criteria that allow tissue-typing — one of them is that the embryo has to be at risk of the disease,” a spokesperson said.