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Saviour sibling born in France

Baby Umut-Talha is the first baby in France selected at the embryo stage to provide cells to cure his siblings

A “SAVIOUR sibling” baby has been born in France for the first time.

The controversial concept, called a bébé médicament (medicine baby) in French, refers to a couple having a child by in vitro fertilisation to provide an organ or cell transplant to a brother or sister who is ill.

In this case, little Umut-Talha (meaning “our hope” in Turkish), was born after doctors selected an embryo for implantation that did not carry the genes for the disease its siblings suffer and yet was compatible as a donor for them. Stem cells will be taken from the baby’s umbilical cord to use in treating his siblings, who suffer from beta thalassaemia, a blood disorder causing anaemia.

The baby was born to parents of Turkish origin in Clamart, south-west of Paris. He weighed 3.65kg (eight pounds) and is “very healthy” according to Prof René Frydman, the doctor in charge of the birth, who also oversaw the birth of France’s first “test-tube baby”, Amandine, in 1982.

The use of “saviour siblings” has in theory been allowed since the passing of the 2004 Bioethics Law and associated decrees in 2006. However, while it has been carried out in the US for about a decade, it is rare in Europe. The birth comes as a debate starts in parliament on reform of the bioethics laws.

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