The procedure involves the woman's DNA, the sperm from the father and an egg from a donor woman

InVitro Fertilization
Credit: Ted Horowitz/Getty

A 32-year-old woman with a history of IVF failures miraculously gave birth in Greece on Tuesday after undergoing an experimental procedure that involved using her DNA, the sperm from the father and an egg from a donor woman.

The birth of the healthy baby boy was done with a maternal spindle transfer, according to the Institute of Life and Embryotools, where the research took place.

The organization says the method — which preserves the mother’s genetic material — is used to help women with “fertility issues associated with multiple in vitro fertilization failures caused by cytoplasmic dysfunction of the oocytes or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases.”

It took five years of research at Embryotools in Spain followed by two and a half years of clinical work in Greece before they could try it.

“A woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality,” Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life in Athens, said in a press release.

According to CNN, 24 other women are taking part in the trial and eight embryos will be implanted.

The news outlet reports that the technique was used in Mexico during 2016 to help a family with mitochondrial disease complications have a baby. It was then used in Ukraine in 2017 for a 34-year-old mother who suffered from “unexplained infertility.”

According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, “the mitochondria in the cells throughout our bodies are responsible for creating 90 percent of the energy needed to sustain life and support organ function. When mitochondria malfunction, organs start to fail — people get sick, and even die.”

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The procedure doesn’t come without controversy, as some doctors point out that solving fertility issues and preventing mitochondrial diseases are very different.

“I’m concerned that there’s no proven need for the patient to have her genetic material removed from her eggs and transferred into the eggs of a donor,” Tim Child, from the University of Oxford and the medical director of The Fertility Partnership, told the BBC.

“The risks of the technique aren’t entirely known, though may be considered acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease, but not in this situation,” he added. “The patient may have conceived even if a further standard IVF cycle had been used.”