LONDON, April 29, 2005 ( – UK’s highest court, the Law Lords, has upheld a lower court decision allowing the creation of a designer sibling through IVF to be used as a source of stem cells to cure six-year-old Zain Hashmi.

Shahani and Raj Hashmi’s son Zain has beta-thalassaemia, which could possibly be cured by a bone marrow transplant using “material” from a baby created through IVF purely for the extraction of genetically matching bone marrow.

The process involves sorting new embryos created using IVF to find a genetic match, who is then allowed to grow into a baby to be used as a stem cell donor for the sick sibling. Doctors discard all remaining unmatched embryos.

UK’s High Court granted the Hashmi’s request in 2003. After miscarrying the first designer child, created using IVF and selected using Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), the Hashmi’s later gave birth to a natural sibling who was not a match for the brother, but also conceived a child with the same condition, who they had aborted.

A pro-life group, Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CRE) challenged the High Court judgement in an appeal. CRE opposes the genetic selection of designer babies because unselected embryos are discarded.

Lord Brown of Eaton-Under-Heywood, who opposed the decision, said “Is this straying into the field of designer babies or, as the celebrated geneticist, Lord Winston, has put it, ‘treating the offspring to be born as a commodity?’” as reported by the BBC.

See related coverage:

Fertility Doctor Seeks Permission to Create a Designer Baby for use as a Tissue Farm

British Appeal Court OKs Designer Baby For Spare Parts



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