Saturday, 16 May 2009

Panayiotis Zavos: 'I can clone a human being'

A few weeks ago a documentary was shown on the Discovery Channel showing the controversial fertility expert Panayiotis Zavos creating cloned embryos and then injecting them into the wombs of women who were open to having a cloned baby.

The cloning technique he uses is the same as was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996.

There is huge debate from scientists and ethicists, many of whom have united in their attack of Zavos' fertility plan but I don't intend to get involved in that myself at this time. My reasons for posting on this subject come from two very simple thoughts that were prompted by an article I read and the emotions I felt as I was reading it.

A quote from the article reads:

"I get enquiries every day. To date we have had over 100 enquiries and every enquiry is serious. The criteria is that they have to consider human reproductive cloning as the only option available to them after they have exhausted everything else," Dr Zavos said.

My simple response to this is does Dr. Zavos include in that how the mind is affecting the body? I learnt HypnoFertility from a wonderful woman called Lynsi Eastburn and she relayed many stories of how medical personal had given couples the news that they will NEVER have a baby and that it was a physical impossibility for them do so. But Lynsi had then gone on to work with these women and they had become pregnant. I myself have worked with women who have been told; your body is on the edge of menopause, your eggs are of such poor quality you will never conceive, you will never become pregnant, and so on. Many have gone on to become pregnant after having undergone HypnoFertility with me. The mind plays such an important part in conceiving. In fact the subconscious mind runs the body and is therefore controlling whether or not a woman can become pregnant. So if the mind isn't considered during a couples journey towards having a baby then all options have NOT been exhausted.

But the article is not just talking about helping couples have their long sought after baby.

The part of the article that affected me the most deeply began with the sub-title "The little girl who could 'live' again". This was referring to a little girl called Cady who died aged 10 in a car crash in the US. Her blood cells were frozen and sent to Dr Zavos who produced cloned human-animal hybrid embryos from them. Dr Zavos said that cells from Cady's "embryo" could in the future be fused with an empty human egg, producing a human embryo, that could then be transferred into the womb to produce Cady's clone. Cady's mother said she would sanction this if there was a chance the clone of her little girl could be born.

I find this story so incredibly sad. I am crying just even trying to write this post. First of all of course the loss of a child. It is utterly inconceivable and no-one would ever want to imagine the pain of this. However, to then go on and look for ways of cloning that child just sends the horror of Stephen King's Pet Sematary right through me. I wonder what there reasons would be for doing this? They cannot bring back the unique child that they lost by cloning her. This will of course be a different child. Is there a comfort in knowing that a new child is part of the one they lost - maybe, I have no idea? Does the pain of losing Cady become any less. I would sadly guess no. This is more than helping a couple have a child this is surely aimed at helping replace the loss of another child. Something that I'm sure Cady's parents will be the first to tell us that you just cannot do.

And here I find myself unwittingly joining the ethics debate.

Most horrifying of all for me is the total understanding I have of what could drive Cady's parents and the character Louis Creed in Pet Sematary towards the making of such decisions.

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body" - Elizabeth Stone

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