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Assisted Reproduction

Resurrecting The Dead Through Cloning?

Just what the fertility industry needed right now. On the heels of OctoMom and SurroGenesis, word is that controversial fertility doctor, Panayiotis Zavos, has allegedly cloned 14 embryos and transferred 11 of them into 4 volunteers. Among those cloned by Zavos were 3 dead individuals, including a 10 year old girl who perished in a car crash. If the ethical concerns were not alarming enough, exploiting parents who lost a child by giving them false hope that they can, in essence, resurrect their child, is despicable.

Zavos is no stranger to controversy as he made similar clams years ago that turned out to be unfounded. The filming was conducted by noted documentary filmmaker Peter Williams. I know Mr. Williams and while I have no reason to believe Zavos’ claims, particularly given his history, I do trust Williams whose credibility is unimpeachable. According to the Daily Telegraph:

Panayiotis Zavos was filmed allegedly carrying out the procedure by an independent documentary maker in a secret laboratory in the Middle East.

If the highly controversial claim is true then the American, who was born in Cyprus, has broken the greatest taboo in science. Cloning a human embryo is illegal in Britain and in many other countries. Dr Zavos said the women, including at least one from Britain, were genuinely hoping to become pregnant with a cloned child, but the experiment did not work.

However, he insists his attempt was the first chapter in a serious attempt to produce a baby cloned from the skin cells of its parent. He said: “There is absolutely no doubt about it, and I may not be the one that does it, but the cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way it that it will not happen. “If we intensify our efforts we can have a cloned baby within a year or two, but I don’t know whether we can intensify our efforts to that extent.”

However, the women volunteers – three who were married and one single – were apparently not “ideal subjects”, and so they all failed to become pregnant. Dr Zavos said: “I think we know why we did not have a pregnancy. I think with better subjects, and there are hundreds of people out there who want to do this – if we chose 10 couples, I think we will get some to carry a pregnancy.”

In addition to the bioethical concerns, Zavos really should have taken a lesson in clinical efficiency from Dr. Michael Kamrava. Had Kamrava cloned these 11 embryos, he would have transferred all of them into a single volunteer.

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