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France’s first ‘saviour baby’ is born in Paris

Antoine Mariotti , France 24 International

A ‘saviour baby’ is a relatively new term that has come in to practice with modern medical revelations allowing for genetic selection at the embryonic stage of development. The first savior baby in France was born in Paris on February 8, 2011. The boy, named Umut Talha, meaning “our hope” in Turkish was born to Turkish parents and has two siblings who suffer from a genetic blood disease called Beta thalassemia. Beta Thalassemia reduces the production of hemoglobin, the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. People who suffer from this disease are generally anemic and have an increased risk of developing blood clots. Blood transfusions are required to frequently replenish the red blood cell supply, and is the treatment currently being delivered to Umut’s older sister.

With Umut’s birth, the need for these frequent blood transfusions will be eliminated. Umut’s parents’ began the process of having a saviour baby a little more than a year ago. The process involved screening embryos for the disease, and then genetically selecting an embryo free of the disease. Umut was indeed born disease free and the stem cells from his umbilical cord will be used to cure his sister of her disease. The process will be repeated soon to cure Umut’s four year old brother as well.

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