HIV-carrier gives birth to healthy twins

Rambam twins born to woman in her 30s were produced with in-vitro fertilization after first viral IVF unit was created in Israel last year.

July 12, 2011 04:44
2 minute read.
Baby sleeping in cot

baby in cot 311. (photo credit: Illustrative photo)


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A week after Hadassah University Medical Center announced the birth of its first healthy baby fathered by an HIV carrier, Rambam Medical Center reported on Monday its first two births of healthy babies, whose mother is HIV positive.

The Hadassah baby was made possible by the special rinsing of semen to remove the deadly virus; the Rambam twins born to a woman in her 30s were produced with in-vitro fertilization.

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In April a year ago, the Haifa hospital set up its viral IVF unit – the first of its kind in Israel – for helping HIV-carriers and those with other chronic viral diseases to have healthy babies. The unit was funded jointly by Rambam and the Health Ministry. Until now, couples with HIV who wanted children were often turned down, or went abroad to private fertility clinics.

Immediately after the opening of Rambam’s new clinic was published, queries were received from couples in Israel and abroad. Among the first was from the woman who gave birth to the healthy twins, who also conducted a public campaign to have the right to become a mother.

Dr. Avi Leitman, who heads the clinic, said the woman underwent only a few fertility cycles before she became pregnant with the healthy embryos. Dr. Einat Kerem, who is responsible for monitoring pregnant HIV-carriers and their babies, said that the clinic did not introduce a technological innovation that is unknown abroad, but that it was a first in Israel.

“The new mother is the first to do it. For her and women like her, the clinic was established,” she said.

The NIS 2 million clinic has a special lab that requires intensive cooperation among a variety of professionals in the fields of immunology, hepatitis B or C, virology and IVF.

When the male partner is a carrier of HIV, or has infectious hepatitis, his semen is rinsed to separate sperm that is not carrying the virus from healthy ones. The sperm is then inserted individually into the egg of the healthy mother via intracytoplasmic sperm infection.

In the case of a female carrier, healthy sperm is injected into healthy ova chosen from among the mother’s eggs.

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