A COUPLE with cystic fibrosis are set to give birth to Ireland's first genetically screened baby next July.
The couple have been treated at the Cork Fertility Clinic, which is one of just two centres licensed by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) to carry out the controversial procedure.
The parents opted for 'gene screening' for the child they desperately wanted over concerns they had an exceptionally high chance of having a baby with cystic fibrosis.
The couple, who want to remain anonymous, sought the assistance of CFC after discovering that while one parent already has cystic fibrosis, the other also carried the defective gene responsible for the condition.
That meant their child had a one in four chance of inheriting cystic fibrosis which, without a heart and lung transplant, is a life-limiting condition.
However, using a technique called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), fertility clinics can screen potential embryos for traces of the disorder.
The treatment costs under €10,000 but can guarantee that potentially fatal genetic conditions are not passed on.
Using PGD, fertility clinics implant only healthy embryos and assure worried couples that potentially fatal genetic disorders are not passed on to their children. The Cork clinic has been operating for over a decade but the case is the first confirmed use of PGD for an Irish baby.
The Pro-Life Campaign has called for a detailed ethical debate on the issue of genetic screening.