London, August 10 (ANI): Meet Britain's only 'saviour sibling' twins who have been created to be donors for their sick older brother.
Amy and Anthony Maguire, both two years old, were born after IVF treatment was used to select embryos which are a match for their brother Connor, so that blood taken from their umbilical cord at birth might one day be used to offer him life-saving treatment.
According to reports, Connor was two years old when his parents noticed normal rough and tumble caused him serious bruising.
It was found that he was suffering from aplastic anaemia, a condition where the immune system destroys parts of the bone marrow which produce blood cells and affects just three in every one million people.
His condition was so serious he could have started spontaneously bleeding internally, which could have proved life threatening.
Since the child required repeated doses of powerful drugs to suppress his immune system, he had to stay in isolation in hospital and required large amounts of medication, including blood transfusions.
A bone marrow transplant is the only long-term cure for the disease, but despite a worldwide search the family could not find a match for the kid.
Finally, Connor's consultant, Dr. Sarah Ball, at St George's Hospital in south west London, suggested that the couple should consider creating a so-called saviour sibling because they were intending to have more children.
Despite the fact that the practice of creating saviour siblings has proved controversial, the children's father Laurence Maguire has no doubts that it is justified.
"Once you see your children, any notion that they are spare parts is gone. We wouldn't change anything, they are our children and we love them all," the Telegraph quoted the 42-year-old as saying.
"I never ever think that we didn't have the twins for the right reason," he added.
Maguire, a sales manager with an insurance firm, said that they had not realised how difficult IVF would be.
"It is a massive undertaking, with blood tests all the time, daily injections. It is incredibly stressful," he said.
He further said that they did not have the treatment in order to create 'spare parts children'.
"We always intended to have more children, we both come from large families. It wasn't really a choice at all, because you will do anything for your child," he said.
Since the twins were born almost two years ago, Connor's condition has stabilised a little and he has recently stopped his immunosuppression drugs.
However, there is always the risk that his condition will deteriorate again.
Maguire said: "God forbid that anything happens to Connor but if it does we are in a much better situation than we were before." (ANI)