General Article Saviour siblings

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When a family has a child with a life-limiting condition, they can choose to ‘tissue match’ their new child to help its sibling:

  • They go to an IVF clinic to conceive their baby in a lab.
  • After three to four days, the embryo will have grown to 64 cells. It will fit on the head of a pin.
  • One cell is tested to see if there is a tissue match between the embryo and the family’s sick child and, if necessary, to check that the embryo is free of genetic disorders.
  • If the embryo is a tissue match it can be implanted in its mother and allowed to continue to develop naturally.
  • Blood from the umbilical cord is collected after birth and can be used to treat the baby’s sick sibling.
  • The family now has two healthy children!

This procedure is only allowed if there is no matching tissue donor in the family or on donor registries.

A handful of life-limiting conditions can now be treated using donated blood from umbilical cords (the link between a developing foetus and its placenta) or fro...

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