Children created by a couple through IVF to help treat an older son’s blood illness have been described as the first ‘saviour sibling’ twins.
Laurence Maguire and his partner Wendy Plant have a four year old son, Connor, who has aplastic anaemia, a very rare blood condition.
The couple underwent IVF treatment after a worldwide search for bone marrow.
Embryos from the IVF were then tested to see if they were suitable as future bone marrow donors for Connor.
Mr Maguire said they had not realised that IVF would be a difficult process: “It is a massive undertaking, with blood tests all the time, daily injections. It is incredibly stressful”.
The IVF resulted in five embryos and the two that were a match for Connor were implanted.
When the twins, Amy and Anthony, were born nearly two years ago, their umbilical cord blood was immediately taken and stored for use in the future.
So far, however, it has not been needed as Connor’s condition has stabilised.
Mr Maguire insisted he and his partner had always intended to have more children, denying that the twins were created in order to provide ‘spare parts’.
He added: “It wasn’t really a choice at all, because you will do anything for your child.”
The laws allowing the ‘saviour sibling’ process to take place were passed in 2008, but as early as 2004 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority gave permission for one family to create a ‘saviour sibling’.
During the debate in the House of Lords on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Christian Peer Lady O’Cathain opposed the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ to provide ‘spare-part’ tissues for the treatment of an existing child.
She said in the debate: “To manufacture a person in this way is to offend against the respect that is due to the integrity of that person, no matter how compelling the goal of trying to cure.”
Lord Tebbit said at the time: “Because it might bring great benefits to particular people does not mean it should be done.
“If we accept arguments of that kind we are effectively saying that the end justifies the means.”