Bioethics Blogs

First Baby Born Via ‘3-Parent IVF’ Raises Ethical Questions

On Tuesday it was reported that the first live birth resulting from mitochondrial donation was born in New York to a Jordanian couple. According to The New York Times, the fertility procedure – also referred to as “3-parent IVF” – was performed at a Mexican clinic and the baby is a healthy boy.

The purpose of a donor for this couple was to “overcome flaws in a parent’s mitochondria that can cause grave illnesses in babies.” Thus, the DNA from the egg of the healthy mother who has the mutation, is placed in the egg of a healthy donor after her nuclear DNA is removed. It is important to understand that the mitochondria of a cell are completely separate entities from DNA that determines inheritance.

The Jordanian couple took their chances with the procedure as they had lost two other children to the disease, one at age 6 and the other at 8 months. Dr. John Zhang performed the procedure at the New Hope Fertility Center’s clinic in Mexico as it is “effectively banned” in the United States, though it has been legal in the United Kingdom since last year.

The child is now 5 months old and healthy with normal mitochondria, as was first reported by New Scientist magazine.

Even after the procedure and birth, attitudes of mitochondrial transfers remain suspicious and aversive. “While referring to the procedure as “three-parent IVF” makes for compelling copy, in reality, it is not accurate…it’s also not nearly as controversial or ethically problematic as the ‘three-parent’ moniker makes it sound,”  Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Dr.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.