More MS news articles for April 2002

Science shapes family future,5936,4075077^952,00.html

5th April, 2002
Siobhain Ryan

STEVE Weavers has a three-year-old son, a nine-month-old daughter and a nine-year-old history of multiple sclerosis.

He gained the first two with the help of IVF and he hopes that embryos left over from the fertility treatment could, one day, help achieve a cure for the third.

Mr Weavers supports Prime Minister John Howard's decision yesterday to back the use of surplus embryos from fertility treatments in stem cell research.

"I've no doubts whatsoever. I'd love to see it used for stem cell research, particularly since I've got MS there's a chance it could help me," he said.

The announcement will lead to legislation allowing parents to consent, or refuse, to donate to the fledging field of embryonic stem cell research.

Mr Weavers, who is on a disability pension, agrees families should retain the right to decide what happens to their embryos.

"As to the Government saying you can't use them I don't know exactly how I'd feel about that," he said.

Mr Weavers' wife Geraldine, who underwent IVF therapy at Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, took a similar approach.

They have several surplus embryos from their fertility treatment and plan to donate them either to a childless couple or to stem cell research.

"When you think about it, science helped us to conceive two children and, if science can help find a cure for a disease, why not? They're going to be destroyed, so that's a waste, isn't it?" Mrs Weavers said.

"I think that most people have a relative or someone who has some kind of spinal injury or disease."

Dr John Allan, director of reproductive medicine unit at Wesley Hospital, said he also believed the Federal Government announcement was a sensible one that would guide future practice in a complicated field.

He said that even the embryos used in fertility treatment had a high attrition rate, with only 20 per cent leading to pregnancy.

"To say that all the embryos in storage would result in a human being is not correct," Dr Allan said.

© Queensland Newspapers