Mum who lost seven children to disease welcomes new IVF support

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A MUM has welcomed public backing for a controversial fertility treatment to eradicate the condition that claimed the lives of her seven children.

Sharon Bernardi, of Springwell, Sunderland, today stressed the importance of “three parent IVF” research, currently being carried out by Newcastle University scientists.

Sharon, 47, and husband Neil, 43, lost six children to mitochondrial disease within a few hours of them being born. Their son Edward died aged 21, two years ago.

The team of researchers this week received public approval to continue their work into preventing the transmission of maternally-inherited mitochondrial disorders.

After a six-month consultation, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced broad support for the mitochondria replacement being made available to at risk families.

The technique involves replacing the defective mitochondria in a human egg with healthy mitochondria. Opponents of the method claim it throws up serious ethical questions.

However, this week’s public support for the research is seen as a key hurdle in the race to change the law, allowing mitochondrial replacement to be put into practice. Sharon, who has mobility problems caused by inherited mitochondrial disease, said: “It’s important people see the bigger picture and don’t just dismiss this as creating ‘designer babies’.

“I’m pleased the public seem to be in favour of this, however, I think it could be some time before the actual law is changed. I only hope people realise how important it is.”

Professor Doug Turnbull, leading the research team, added: “We welcome the supportive views of most of the public.”