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Clonaid Claims It Has Cloned a Baby Girl

Aired December 27, 2002 - 09:12   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are awaiting a press conference that is possibly on a serious note going to give us news, possibly of the first cloned baby. There is a live picture. Hollywood, Florida, where this news is coming out of. Actually, it looks like we are getting close to the news conference beginning. And we will bring Dr. Sanjay Gupta in as we talk about this.
Is this the woman?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: That does look like her. We are talking about Brigitte Boisselier. She is actually the scientific director of Clonaid. That's an offshoot of the Raelian organization we've been talking so much about. Again, this is an organization that believes the Earth was populated by genetic clones by aliens. Anxious to see what she has to say. A lot of people have been waiting on her. They have been talking about the possibility of cloning a baby for about three years.

KAGAN: Let's go ahead and listen in.


And I always told you that there will be one day where I will ask for a press conference. I never requested anything like that before. I answered your question very patiently, as much as I could. And today is my day. I'm very, very pleased to note that the first baby clone is born. She was born yesterday at 11:55. a.m. in the country where she was born, so this will not give you more details about the location. She is fine.

We call her Eve between us. You knew that, of course. Some suggested it, and I thought it was a good idea, actually. You will have the right name.

And, you know, for a long time, I thought that this press conference will be with the baby, the parents, the scientists, everybody surrounding me and having pleasure announcing it. I'm alone, and there is a reason to that it hasn't been easy to face the world with this announcement, and we have been discussing with the parents the last three months how we would handle today. They decided not to show up yet. They will -- I hope they will. And I wish them well, because we have been working very closely together for the last year, talking to each other very often before implementation, then we did the implementation, then there was the hope that this could hold, and then they got past the first three months. And I saw them change. I saw them becoming so happy with the birth coming. And, yesterday, I can tell you it was the best day of their life. And I wanted -- I wished them a very happy life, and I wish this baby girl a very happy life.

So that's the reason why they are not here right now. They won't face the press right now, but I hope they will. But there will be proof, because I know you're expecting some proof, right? So the baby right now is in the hospital with the mother. She will -- there will be an independent expert that I don't know. I have never met him, but I trust those who have chosen him, and this is a person who is in this room.

Michael, would you like to say just a word?

DR. MICHAEL GUILLEN: I'm Dr. Michael Guillen.

QUESTION: Will you step up to the mic, please.

GUILLEN: Dr. Michael Guillen -- G-U-I-L-L-E-N, from the United States, freelance journalist, recently of ABC News. Last 14 years, the scientist editor for ABC News.

For the record, I know as little and as much as you do about the baby and child that Dr. Boisselier has just announced, but Dr. Boisselier has invited me to put her claim to the test, and I have accepted on behalf of the world's press on two conditions, that the invitation be given with no strings attached whatsoever. And, number two, that the tests be conducted by a group of independent world class experts.

Now, I have consulted with these experts and they tell me -- yes, ma'am. And Dr. Boisselier has promised to abide by these two conditions and it's on the strength of that promise that I am proceeding. I am told by the experts that the procedures -- the whole process will probably take about a week. We are going to go by the book and be very strict and rigorous. And once the results are made, then I will be releasing them to you all.

QUESTION: How were you chosen?

GUILLEN: Nobody is paying me. This is completely independent. As I say, the two conditions that I made in accepting Dr. Boisselier's invitation was absolutely no strings attached whatsoever, and number two, that the tests be conducted not by my personally, but by a group of independent experts, which Dr. Boisselier has no connection with, no affiliation with, and has no influence over their selection.

I want to be certain that at the end of this process, we can all have confidence in the results one way or the other.

QUESTION: Are you a physician, sir?

GUILLEN: I'm a physicist, not a physician, Phd physicist. Now that's all. Excuse me.

QUESTION: Why are you doing it without pay? GUILLEN: I'm a freelance journalist.

QUESTION: For who?

GUILLEN: I'm a freelance journalist.

Right now, I am a freelance journalist, sir. That's all I'm prepared to say to you now. I will be pleased to answer all of your questions when the time comes, but this is Dr. Boisselier's press conference.

BOISSELIER: Thank you, Michael.

QUESTION: How will we hear the independent verification? How will we hear that?

BOISSELIER: So, the baby will come home probably in three days from now. I think it's going to be in three days, because everything is fine, from what I've heard. It's very difficult to communicate with them, because I want really to protect them as much as I can, as you guessed. So the baby, once the baby is home in three days, the independent expert will have the address, where he can go to get -- to do the sampling. And once the sample is done, then there will be one week, I think it could be done faster, but let's say one week. So you should have the answer and all proof that you request in eight or nine days from now, OK.

QUESTION: How large was the baby?

BOISSELIER: I'd like to finish that. It's my day, right. I'm sorry, if you see my smile, but it's been such a year for me, as you guessed. And you've been treated me like so many things. I have my say today, right. I want to talk, and I will talk.

We have been celebrating with the scientists this week and it was a very special Christmas, and I wish they could be here with me. I know that they are looking at me, and I want to thank them, especially right now, because I believe that they deserved the recognition, and they will get it, once they are ready to go public. Right now, it's still difficult. Some of them are working for institutions that they will not, and they cannot go public right now. But I hope that, soon, we can do the publication we have been hoping.

The process, the technique we have been using is very close to the one that has been described for Dolly, the sheep, but adapted to human cells. It's been -- I don't know if it's been -- some people will say it's luck, but I would say it's hard work.

Because our technician, especially the one who has been doing all of the transfer has been very hard worker and tried many, many different media. Actually, the key in this science success is actually the timing on how you do the transfer, the activation and the media that we've been using, all of the condition that surround the first stage of the embryo.

So we are pleased, because of our results, because I believe that it's the result of hard work and dedication. And this team is -- I'm really thankful to them for what they did.

I also want to thank the parents who trusted me. They have been -- I have received a lot of support of parents to be, individuals or couples who would like to have a baby, who said, despite what the press say, despite the government, we will have a baby, and thanks to you, you are giving us hope. And I received so many e-mails of hope. I receive a lot of e-mails of insults and death threats at the same time.

But I want to remember only the hope and -- and I've been working for the last couple of years for these couples who would like to have a baby. I'd like you to remember when you write about this, whatever you write, is that they are parents who have hope, thanks to this technology, and this technology is available to them through Clonaid, but it will be available through many others, probably doctor (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and probably others that are computers (ph), and this will be available in IVF clinics, depending on how you treat them, or these parents will have to go to some secret location for long time again, depending on how you treat that event.

And it's very important to remember that we are talking about a baby. The baby is very healthy. She's fine. She's doing fine. The parents are happy. And I hope that you remember them when you talk about this baby, Not like a monster, like some results of something that is disgusting. She is a very healthy baby in these words, and we're very happy parents.

The parents are American citizens. The mother is 31. She is the one who has been cloned, and she carried her baby cloned. We have been discussing at length the implication of that, and she is doing really well with that. She is -- the whole family is very happy and, actually, probably the best proof that we can have -- sorry, Dr. Guillen, but it's probably the grandmother who said, she looks just like the mother. So it's real what I heard about that. I couldn't attend the birth, but that was a good announcement.

I also want to remind you that Clonaid was funded in 1997, thanks to Rael. You may have heard of him. He's my spiritual leader. He's the founder of the Raelian movement.

And when all of these establishment was saying, this is not acceptable, we shouldn't have a baby, the human baby cloned any time, we couldn't accept that, because, to us, as Raelians to stop science, it's not possible. It shouldn't be allowed. Science can go be the worst and the best for humanity, but I choose to think that this is for the best.

I do believe that we have been created by scientists, that everything that is me has been thought by scientists. and I'm grateful to them for my life, for the fact that I'm abler to have pleasure in everything I do. And science, if science created me, then science has some good. If it's used for good, so now, we can compare science. If my science was giving babies to parents who have been dying to get one with their own genes, is my science worse than the one who has prepared -- the one preparing bombs to kill people? People will say this is to protect. Yes, this is to kill, and I am creating life. I'd like you to think of science for good, science for creation of life and this is the message that Rael has been giving in 1997 when he founded Clonaid, and I was happy to follow him at that time.

It took me -- sometime I lost my job in France, because of that, I lost the custody of my little child, because of that, and because of my association to the Raelian movement. That's the liberty of thought in France, right? And I struggled to get the first funding, and I got the first funding back in summer 2000. And we had the first lab. We had closed the lab for many reasons.

I did a new one, and in this new one that we did, we had our first success. We had this technician and the team, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is that OK? The team worked hard starting in august 2001. We had, at that time, we were working on the cow eggs with human genes inside, and we started to work on the genetic aspect of the printing and so on. We really did more than 3,000 of those, and really refined every aspect of the technique, until December. That's when we built this machine that you heard of, the RMX-2000 that you can see on our Web site, if the Web site is alive today, because during the night, we had some hackers playing around.

We started really to work with human eggs in January of this year. So it took us three months to finalize, and this is very short, and that's why I said is it luck, or is it hard work? I do believe it's hard work. But we had our really -- we had really good success, very quickly, and refined the technique for human eggs until spring where we started to have implementation. We had 10 implementations, and five of them during the first three weeks were terminated spontaneously.

Five others were successful and are still successful. The first one so was born yesterday. The next one is due in Europe next week. So it's very close.

And the three others will be by the end of January. and maybe early February depending. We never know exactly, because the other ones are not supposed to be C-sectioned.

So, yes, I think I can go back to what I was starting to thank people, and I really want to thank Rael for his leadership in this. He's not here, because I want you to realize that Clonaid and the Raelian movement have no association, except the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) association. And even he has been the founder, he handed that to me back in 2000 when I started to have the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and he is not involved in any decision or anything, but he has been my leader and I really believe that he is -- his leadership has been very important for the success of this scientific event and for Clonaid altogether.

And we will work now. Of course, now, there will be 20 more implementations done sometime during January, if everything goes fine, in that new lab, because we had to start a new lab, the third one. After that, we intend to open clinics, at least one per continent, to make sure that we can help all of the parents who have been requesting, because the list is long, and it's climbing. We, at Clonaid, intend to work on the next steps that is the growth process. As you have heard about that, this is one of our goals is, indeed, go far in the cloning technology and, at the same time to work on the aging technology.

So I hope that I can have another press conference soon announcing all kind of very good results. But the team is very dedicated to that, and very much (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and we have a lot of requests as well. So this is what I wanted to say, and you may have some questions. I have seen a lot of hands raised. I don't want to -- I've been talking 30 minutes. Very proud of me, OK.

QUESTION: Can you tell us the birth weight of the baby and what the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) score is and, third, what roll has Canada played in this? Did the egg donor come from Canada?

BOISSELIER: Canada? Oh. So, yes, I saw you. The baby was born by C-section. The reason it was a C-section is that the mother had another baby before with C-section. That is the only reason. And so you can know that this little Eve has an older sister, and from another marriage. So a lot of indication. No links with Canada.

I mean, they have been egg donors for our first trials, from January to March, and would there be any -- there might be some from Canada, but you know, there's nothing special about them.

QUESTION: Any particular one you can't say?

BOISSELIER: No, for the particular one, we used the egg of the mother, because it's the case of male infertility. So we used the egg of the mother. So it's an easy case, we're going to say, because even the mitochondrial DNA is the same.

QUESTION: And what was the baby's birth weight and the afgar (ph) score?

BOISSELIER: The weight was seven pounds.

QUESTION: And the afgar (ph) score, do you know, the neurological tests that they did on the baby at birth?

BOISSELIER: Everything was fine. Everything was fine.

QUESTION: Goes into a 10 or 9?

BOISSELIER: I don't have the number. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) implementation, are they all of the same babies, all of the same?

BOISSELIER: No, it was 10 different cases. We didn't take a chance to have twins of this little baby. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Can you tell me the nationality of the other four parents?

BOISSELIER: The other four parents. So, the next one is from Europe.


BOISSELIER: I won't say. I think I want to travel safely in northern Europe.

QUESTION: Northern?

BOISSELIER: Northern Europe. And two are from Asia. And the third one is from North America, and the two last one are from Asia.

QUESTION: Which part of Asia? East or from Japan, or South, China?

BOISSELIER: No comment.

QUESTION: Where did the DNA come from to make the clones?

BOISSELIER: In that case, it was a skin cell that had been grown.

QUESTION: For everyone?

BOISSELIER: Not for every one, because we tried different types, but for this one, for Eve, it was a skin cell.

QUESTION: Did you use electricity or chemical medium to cause the cell to divide?

BOISSELIER: It had been an electrical impulse.

QUESTION: Did you do a whole skin cell? Did you do the egg cells?

BOISSELIER: Yes, we did.

QUESTION: Or did you just extract the nucleus?

BOISSELIER: No, the whole cell.

QUESTION: Every successful pregnancy, how was -- what was your rate of failure?

BOISSELIER: Well, 10 implementations, five success so far, but you know, we'll wait till the end of the five pregnancies to claim any success rate.

QUESTION: ... embryos from miscarriages, and have you...

BOISSELIER: Yes, oh, yes, no clue about any degenerative defect. We supposed that it was more kind of a preparation of the women. But, you know, it's something -- I'd like to remind you that in IVF, because in this technique is very much like technique of in vitro infertilization. And in good clinics, you can go up to 40 percent success rate.

So, so far, if everything goes fine with the five pregnancy, we should have fifteen. So it's pretty good.

QUESTION: Are you going to...

BOISSELIER: Yes, we will, yes, we will. You know, we have been debating about that for the last two weeks. It's been very hectic for us, and the scientists want -- they want to publish and, at the same time, it's difficult for them to put their name on the publication if indeed they want to. So I guess that depending on the outcome of this week and the public response, we'll see how we do that publication.

QUESTION: How were the people selected, and are they members of the Raelian organization?

BOISSELIER: No, there won't be any -- there were no Raelian candidate in this first round. Actually, I won't be able to give you their religions, if that's what is important for you. But the -- I had received thousand of requests. Among them, some were more interesting than others. So for the last three years, we have been talking with many of them. Some were ready to take risks. And because this was a risk, you know, we all understand that, and they became, in a sense, scientific partner.

QUESTION: Doctor, you state today...

BOISSELIER: And we chose them because we wanted to have several cases as well. In this case, it was an infertile couple. The European case is a lesbian couple. They will be also two cases where with dead children, so you know, the children that will preserve the cell before the death of the child.

QUESTION: You will be using the cell from the dead child?

BOISSELIER: That is what we have been using for some of them, for one of the Asian, yes.

QUESTION: One of the Asian, I'm sorry. What is the other one?

BOISSELIER: The other one is the one from North America.

QUESTION: From North America?


QUESTION: Do you know the gender of the baby?

QUESTION: The baby has an older sister. It's an infertile couple. What process was used to have the older sister?

BOISSELIER: Well, it was -- the mother remarried, so we're talking about new couple in that case.

QUESTION: Doctor, you said today was about you, that you wanted to talk and that you're celebrating. BOISSELIER: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you describe what it is you're celebrating?

BOISSELIER: I'm celebrating a success, a scientific success. The success for these parents who have been hoping so much for this year, you know. It's been something.

And I think you have to admit with me that being treated the way I've been treated through the media, through all of the planet, to me, it's something to face you today and say, well, she is born. And, to me, it's a celebration, you know, because -- well, you could still go back to your office and treat me as a fraud. You have one week to do that.

You don't have to come if you didn't want to, right?

QUESTION: Where is the proof?

BOISSELIER: The proof -- I have my own proof because, of course, we did the test. I'm -- you will not trust my proof. If I show you a picture of the baby now, you will say, prove me that this is a cloned baby. If I show you the older tests we did, because we did many, plenty even during the pregnancy, you will say, look, tell me, the only proof I can give you is through an independent expert that I don't even know. I have never met this person.

QUESTION: How did you arrange the arrangement with the freelance journalist, and why should we believe that he's independent?

BOISSELIER: Oh, yes, you're right. You can always doubt, and doubt and doubt. It's your choice. I never -- maybe the best proof you can have is is that if you look at the last show he did on cloning, I resent that very much. He did that on CNN and Connie Chung, and it was not on me. He did that for one of my competitors. So maybe I should have not chosen you. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Doctor, what is your title with Clonaid?

BOISSELIER: I'm the CEO of Clonaid.

QUESTION: Doctor, this baby is essentially a identical twin, correct, but a younger version of the mother.


QUESTION: So is the biological father then the baby's grandfather?

BOISSELIER: Well, the -- you could say that. But, to me, who is the father of the baby is the father of who have been designed of the baby, that chose together to have a baby, and this baby that chose to have the little clone of the mother. So that...

QUESTION: When the baby grows up and asked about her father, what do you suggest the parents tell her? BOISSELIER: They have decided already to tell the truth and to explain that the father is the companion of this women, and they chose to have this baby. And I think this is the revolution that we are living in our society, is that the family will change. It is already changing. A lot of children are raided today are raised by other -- by couples that are not their biological parents anymore, but most of the time, there is only one of them.

Let me finish, OK?


BOISSELIER: So this family is -- society is changing. Family is changing, and I do believe that it is the choice of every parent to choose the child they want, even if they don't have any infertility problem or any severe case or disease. If you are perfectly a normal couple and you want to have -- elect to have a child through the cloning or production technology, why not? Who are we to tell the parents the child that they should have? Of course, we have to educate people to let them know that what are the implication of that.

But if you go into the debate and telling people what -- that they shouldn't have a child through the cloning technology, then you should tell them, well, you were drinking during your pregnancy, then you shouldn't have baby. You could go into the intimate life of everybody. I don't think this is right.

QUESTION: What continent was this baby born on? Can you tell us what continent this baby was born in?


QUESTION: Doctor, you said you were going to open clinics ultimately on all continents. What will you charge...

BOISSELIER: She was asking the question.

QUESTION: Yes, the cost?

BOISSELIER: The cost? Nobody never paid me anything so far. And maybe things will change. I always consider that there have been some among the five couples who have been -- are still in the pregnancy or -- some of them became business partners. So they invested in the company. But they didn't pay for the product. They invested their trust in us, and I see they are very happy today with the outcome.

QUESTION: But this is, fundamentally, going to be a money-making proposition?

BOISSELIER: This is -- Clonaid is a private company with investors...

KAGAN: We've been listening in to quite a news conference. This is coming to us from Hollywood, Florida. This woman's name is Brigitte Boisselier. She is the scientific director of a group called Clonaid. She announced this morning that she says the first cloned human baby has been born. This, of course, her claim. No proof yet. She says it was born yesterday. She will not say where the baby was born. She says it's a girl, weighing in at seven pounds. The parents are American.

But, once again, she is not saying where. A lot missing from this announcement. One, of course, no baby, and no parents at this point.

But she also brought up an independent journalist, a man named Michael Guillen, who is a Phd, who has actually appeared here on CNN. He said that he will go ahead and check out whether or not these claims are true. He accepted that on two conditions, saying no strings attached, and that he is able to pick his own independent list of world-class experts and it's going to take the next week.

Also coming out of this news conference, this woman, Brigitte Boisselier, saying there have been other implementations, other cloned babies on the way within the next week and the next month all around the world.


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