LIFE has condemned the news that a British woman is to give birth to a baby genetically selected to provide tissue for an older brother. Doctors in a hospital in Chicago have implanted two embryos which have been screened to make sure they match Michelle and Jayson Whitaker's son Charlie. The family had been banned from having the procedure at a UK clinic. Charlie suffers from Diamond-Blackfan anaemia, which increases his chance of cancer. The disease affects only 50 children in the UK, and he currently needs blood transfusions every three weeks and injections almost daily. He could be cured by a transplant of special cells from the new baby's umbilical cord - as long as the baby's tissue was a near-perfect match. However, under normal conditions, only a small proportion of embryos conceived naturally or created through conventional IVF would be a match. This would mean that the couple might have to have several further children before one matching Charlie was created. After fertility treatment, nine embryos were produced, and doctors took a single cell from each at an early stage in development. Each was tested and only those embryos which matched were considered for implantation. The best two were implanted into 30-year-old Michelle. Julie du Plessis, Education Officer for LIFE, said: 'This case has pushed the boundaries of science too far. Children should not be created in order to serve the medical needs of older siblings. We are creating an industry where children are made to order, bought and sold. "Human embryos should be treated with the utmost respect. They are not commodities to be created and then destroyed if they fail to contain the required genetic code. "Children should be accepted unconditionally. This child will be born on condition that he/she can supply a tissue match. Even the HFEA banned the Whitakers from screening embryos in Britain because this involved selecting the embryos to help Charlie, rather than to ensure they were free of disease, and was therefore unethical. "LIFE hopes that the HFEA will continue to ban similar cases in the future. Children should never be created to service the needs of others, whatever the circumstances."
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