Couple to have first IVF baby for NZ

AUCKLAND – For the first time in New Zealand a couple is to have an IVF baby chosen because its stem cells could cure an elder child born with a genetic illness.

The couple’s doctor Mary Birdsall said they wanted to have a child using IVF so it could screened to make sure it didn’t suffer the same illness as its sibling.

But they also wanted a second round of screening so they could choose an embryo which was a donor-match for their sick child. That way doctors could harvest stem cells from the umbilical cord blood and bone marrow of the baby to create a cure for its sibling.

Screening an embryo to see if is a donor-match has never happened before in New Zealand and needed special approval from an ethics committee. “That required reports from a number of specialists, including geneticists, myself and counsellors. Then (the couple) had to wait for their funding to come through so this could go ahead. So it has been a fairly lengthy process,” Dr Birdsall said.

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