In the three months before she was born, Elianna Constantino received five blood transfusions and a bone-marrow transplant. All were given with a needle passed through her mother’s abdomen and uterus, into the vein in her umbilical cord. Elianna, born 1 February with a robust cry and a cap of gleaming black hair, has a genetic disease that usually kills a foetus before birth. The condition, alpha thalassaemia major, leaves red blood cells unable to carry oxygen around the body, causing severe anaemia, heart failure and brain damage. The transfusions in the womb kept her alive, but only treated her illness. The bone-marrow transplant has the potential to cure it. Whether it will succeed is still too soon to tell. Read more Baby with extremely rare condition has ‘uncombable hair’ Elianna and her mother, Nichelle Obar, were the first patients in an experiment that pushes the limits of foetal therapy, a field already known for its daring approach. If the treatment works, it could open the door to using bone-marrow transplants before birth to cure not just Elianna’s blood disease but also sickle cell anaemia, haemophilia and other hereditary disorders, some so severe that the prenatal diagnosis may lead parents to… Read full this story
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