Girl Has Three Biological Parents, (More Babies With Three DNAs Could Be Born Soon)
Although Alana Saarinen looks like a typical well-behaved, fun-loving teenager, she is actually very different from almost anyone in the world.
Namely, Alana is one of a few people worldwide who have three parents, i.e. DNA from three people.
“A lot of people say I have facial features from my mum, my eyes look like my dad… I have some traits from them and my personality is the same too,” says Alana.
“I also have DNA from a third lady. But I wouldn’t consider her a third parent, I just have some of her mitochondria.”
Only 30 to 50 people in the world have some mitochondria, and therefore a bit of DNA, from a third person.
Alana was conceived through a revolutionary infertility treatment in America which was later banned. However, the UK wants to legalize a similar method, meaning more people with three parents could soon be born.
Cytoplasmic transfer was pioneered in the late 1990s by a clinical embryologist Dr. Jacques Cohen and his team at the St Barnabus Institute in New Jersey, US.
“There was a reaction from scientists, ethicists, the public at large, I think most of it was supportive, some of it was critical – I think this is normal, every time an experiment is done in medicine there is a reaction – what are the risks here?”
The health of children born this way is now monitored, Alana’s mother saying that her daughter is a perfectly healthy young girl.
“I couldn’t ask for a better child. She is an intelligent, beautiful girl inside and out, she loves math and science … she does really well in school. She helps me around the house… when she’s not texting!”
“She has always been healthy. Never anything more than a basic cold, or a flu every now and then. No health problems at all.”
Prof Doug Turnbull from The University of Newcastle says that approximately 1 in 3000-5000 people in the UK have a mitochondrial disease.
“We can treat the symptoms. We can improve the quality and length of peoples’ lives but we can’t cure them.”
“We’re not trying to create some characteristic that makes this person a stronger person or [someone who] will have blonde hair. We’re trying to prevent disease and I think that is the only justification for doing this.”