April 12, 2024

Australian clinic creates two “saviour siblings”

Tasmanian couple Leanne and Stephen with their 4-year-old son

An IVF clinic has claimed an Australian first by achieving two pregnancies of “saviour siblings”. Sydney IVF said that it had culled embryos for tissue compatibility so that they could provide “spare parts” for a sick sibling. When their child is born, a Tasmanian couple will be able to treat a 4-year-old son who suffers from a rare condition called hyper IgM syndrome. Another couple will be able to treat a child with leukaemia. Although other IVF clinics have created “designer babies” which are free from a specific genetic defect, this is the first time in Australia that embryos have been tested for tissue compatibility.

Although a similar case in the UK last year was debated for months, the news of the “saviour sibling” excited little comment in the Australian media. The medical director of Sydney IVF, Professor Robert Jansen, said that the procedure was clearly ethical. “Everyone involved in it is in a better position. There is just no down side for a child in this situation… We respect the views of people in the community who are not directly affected by these issues. but we don’t necessarily feel that they have the right to attempt to influence those people who are directly affected,” he commented.