A first baby named Biagio Russu, has been be born in Britain using a revolutionary IVF technique, thanks to genetic screening that allowed doctors to select a healthy, early-stage embryo.
The baby which was conceived via the method means that each round of IVF is far more likely to succeed – sparing couples the agony of repeated attempts at having a child as birth rates are said to rise from 40% to 65% for a woman in her mid-30s.
For Biagio’s parents, Ewa Wybacz (36), and Sergio Russu (42), it worked first time round.
The Oxford University professor who led the trial they took part in, Tim Child, said the chromosome testing technique was a leap forward.
“The majority of embryos that humans make have the wrong number of chromosomes, and this is much more likely with older couples,” he explained.
He added, “The wrong number of chromosomes means that the embryo either will not implant, or there will be a miscarriage, or the child will be born with a genetic disorder such as Down’s syndrome.”
Under the technique, doctors study the DNA of each embryo when it is just five days old. Then they select the one that has the best chance of implanting in the patient’s womb.
The counting of chromosomes makes the doctors’ decision more likely to be accurate than standard microscope methods. The test adds between £2,000 and £3,500 to the cost of IVF treatment, which is typically £5,000 a cycle.
Professor Child says the price will fall as the technique becomes more widely used.
Mr Russu, a chemical scientist in the car industry who took part in the embryo trial with his wife at Professor Child’s clinic, Oxford Fertility, said the procedure had been remarkable.
His wife, who was born in Poland and is now a housekeeper at Mansfield College, Oxford, had been told she would never conceive after a bout of appendicitis at the age of 12 left her ovaries damaged. But, four months ago, their child was born at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital.
“He is a beautiful and healthy boy. It has changed our lives. We were told we could not have a child, and what science has achieved is remarkable. That it worked on the first attempt was very surprising, but shows what can be done.
“I am so grateful. I hope we have shown that this can work and others can also benefit,” said Italian-born Mr Russu.