Mum who lost seven children delighted at ‘three-parent IVF’ law change

The last photo of Edward Bernardi  who died in 2011. This picture was taken in 2010 as he celebrated his 21st birthday with parents Sharon Bernardi and Neil Bernardi at their Sunderland home.
The last photo of Edward Bernardi who died in 2011. This picture was taken in 2010 as he celebrated his 21st birthday with parents Sharon Bernardi and Neil Bernardi at their Sunderland home.
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A MUM who lost all her seven children has said a decision to allow ‘three-parent IVF’ fertility treatment to prevent a devastating genetic condition is her son Edward’s legacy.

Overwhelmed Sharon Bernardi spoke to the Echo after a whirlwind few days which has seen MPs approve the technique to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease after a House of Commons debate.

The 48-year-old, of Springwell, Sunderland, has been at the centre of a media frenzy since the parliamentary vote, which included her appearing live on ITV’s This Morning yesterday.

Sharon lost six babies to the cruel condition within hours of being born, and it took years for medics to work out the reason why.

Her seventh child Edward died nearly four years ago, aged 21.

Sharon and husband Neil, 45, have been backing the new technique, developed by doctors at Newcastle University, which takes healthy mitochondria – an integral part of the body’s cells – from a donor and adds them to the mother’s fertilised egg, effectively creating an embryo with three genetic parents.

Sharon has previously hit out at critics who claim the move is a step towards ‘designer babies’, and she says the procedure should be moved as nothing different to an organ transplant.

“It’s not about designer babies,” she said. “It’s no different to having a heart transplant. The recipient wouldn’t want to change the DNA.

“We are just delighted with the decision I really didn’t think it would go this way because people were so negative.”

A team led by Professor Doug Turnbull, who is also Sharon’s doctor, spent years studying the progress of Edward’s condition as he lived for longer than anyone could have imagined.

“Professor Turnbull was very interested in how he survived for so long,” Sharon said. “He says he did this for Edward. This is Edward’s Legacy, Edward’s story, and it speaks for itself. We are just so thankful that we got the vote.

“Edward was very happy. He went to Portland School, but when he got to 20 the condition really got hold of him. I lost six babies to this cruel disease.

“We’ve been fighting for this. This is history being written and it is going to be done in Newcastle. The first-ever procedure will be carried out in our region and that is just brilliant.”