Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook



King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter





First 'saviour sibling' stem cell transplant performed in UK

10 January 2011

By Dr Jay Stone

Appeared in BioNews 590

A life-saving tissue transplant from a 'saviour sibling' has been carried out entirely in Britain for the first time. Nine-year old Megan Matthews has a condition called Fanconi anaemia, which leaves her body unable to fight infection and she requires a blood transfusion every few weeks.The only hope of a cure for Megan was for her to have a bone marrow transplant from a matched donor. Tests on her older brother Stuart showed he was not a match and the bone marrow register also had no success.

If Megan's parents conceived another child naturally they only had a one in four chance of having a child that could donate tissue, and they also faced the possibility of having another child with the same condition. So Mrs Matthews underwent IVF treatment resulting in two embryos that were free of the condition, and a match for Megan was implanted by CARE Fertility in Nottingham.

Baby Max was born on 22 July 2009 and stem cells from his umbilical cord were harvested immediately. In July last year at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children, medical teams from Cambridge, Bristol and Nottingham transplanted Max's healthy bone marrow and stem cells into his sister Megan. Since the treatment Megan has been making good progress and now only requires a weekly check-up at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge. She may be able to stop taking some of her medication by the end of this year.

While saviour siblings have been born before with the help of US laboratories, this is the first time scientists have carried out the entire process in the UK. The use of saviour siblings in medicine raises a number of ethical issues, with strong opinions both for and against the practice. Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics told the BBC: '[Max] owes his life to his capacity to be of therapeutic use to his sick sister, otherwise he would not have been chosen in the first place. This is the big ethical problem'.

Simon Fishel, managing director of Care Fertility said: 'The ethical issues are in favour of doing this work. We are trying to save the life of a child and achieve a family without the enormous burden of a child with this disorder who would die'. Mrs Matthews also said she had no ethical problems with the treatment her family had received, 'Max is loved for being him and not for what he has done. He has completed our family and now I have a bubbly and healthy girl'.

 

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Daily Mail | 23 December 2010
 
Daily Telegraph | 22 December 2010
 
BBC News | 21 December 2010
 
'Saviour sibling' saves girl's life
UK Press Association | 21 December 2010
 
BBC News | 21 December 2010
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

18 June 2012 - by Dr Lucy Freem 
A ten-year-old Swedish girl has become the first recipient of a donor vein treated with a patient's own stem cells... [Read More]
31 January 2012 - by Daniel Malynn 
In between the epidemic of 'will they, won't they?' relationships spreading throughout Holby City, the show dealt with the genetic disorder epidermolysis bullosa (EB)... [Read More]

22 February 2010 - by Anoushka Shepherd 
I think the producers of this emotive BBC One documentary sought to challenge criticisms of saviour siblings by presenting the heartbreaking, desperate struggle that two couples face in their battle against time to create the miracle baby that will save their child's life... [Read More]
22 February 2010 - by Dr Malcolm Smith 
Two recent Bionews commentaries have considered the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) review of the case-case approach to licensing PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) for late-onset disorders and the use of pre-implantation tissue-typing (PITT) for the creation of 'saviour siblings'. This article considers further, some of the underlying reasons why the HFEA approach to case-by-case licensing of PITT is justified.... [Read More]
17 August 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Twins born following IVF treatment to select embryos which would be a tissue match for their elder brother are thought to be the first incidence in the UK of multiple 'saviour siblings'. Out of just twelve licences granted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authroity (HFEA) to permit families to create a saviour sibling, only this one has resulted in twins.... [Read More]
20 October 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Last week saw the birth of Spain's first so-called 'saviour sibling' - a term used to describe babies conceived following embryo testing to ensure their umbilical cord blood will provide tissue-matched stem cells for an existing sick child. It is hoped that stem cells from baby 'Janvier's' cord... [Read More]
09 April 2008 - by Sheila AM McLean 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, currently making its way through the UK's Parliament, marks the first major re-think of the original Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, passed in 1990. In the almost 20 years since the Act was passed, new medical developments and techniques have emerged which raise... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
RISK ASSESSMENT:
BREAST CANCER, PREDICTION AND SCREENING
FREE public event in central London, 6.30pm on Thursday 8 May 2014 - find out more HERE

ANNIVERSARY APPEAL
Please donate HERE, so that the Progress Educational Trust can continue throughout 2014 (and beyond) while keeping BioNews FREE for you to read

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation