Embryo Given Away Because It´s Not a Girl

DUNDEE, Scotland, MAR. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A couple who sparked a controversy over «designer» babies when they tried to replace their dead daughter by in vitro fertilization have given away their embryo after discovering it was male, the Sunday Times of London reported.

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Louise and Alan Masterton have failed in their attempt to replace their youngest child, Nicole, who died in an accident two years ago. The single embryo on which they pinned their hopes for a new baby girl is now in cold storage at the private Biogenesi clinic in Rome, waiting to be donated to a couple who have no children of their own, the Sunday Times said.

The Mastertons´ case was publicized last year after they tried unsuccessfully to overturn a ban on sex selection. No fertility clinic in Britain would allow them to pre-select a female embryo. The couple desperately wanted a girl after Nicole, aged 3, died following severe burns in a garden fire.

She was the youngest of five and was born after her parents had tried for 15 years to «balance» their four boys, who are aged from 10 to 16.

The revelations about their trip to Italy will revive the debate over the ethical implications of parents using new technology to determine characteristics of children in advance.

They described this weekend how they went to Italy last summer as a last hope after failing to win permission from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to undergo pre-gender diagnosis, a form of in-vitro fertilization that allows the sex of embryos to be chosen.

Dr. Franco Lisi and Dr. Leonardo Rinaldi, directors at the Italian clinic, claimed there were legitimate medical grounds to justify the Mastertons´ request, the Sunday Times said.

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