February 24, 2024

British boy cured with cells from “saviour sibling”

UK doctors say that a six-year-old boy has been cured of a rare blood disorder because of transplants from a baby brother who was created to give him tissue-matched healthy blood cells. Charlie Whitaker was born with Diamond Blackfan anaemia, which is normally a fatal condition. His parents failed to get permission from British authorities to create a "saviour sibling", so they sought help from a Chicago clinic which offered pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. A baby brother was born last year.

Ethicist John Harris, of the University of Manchester, denied that Charlie’s case was a step towards designer babies or creating babies for spare parts. "What better reason could there conceivably be for having a child than to save the life of an existing person? There is no better reason," he declared. Opponents of the treatment countered that "you are using that child as a means to an end, rather than as an end in itself," in the words of Dr David King, of Human Genetics Alert.