Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) with egg donation enables people who have a genetic disorder to avoid passing on that gene to their children. PGD is a procedure performed in the laboratory by embryologists who test embryos created by IVF for the faulty gene and/or chromosomes. From this testing, only embryos that do not have the gene will be transferred into the recipient. This process may be the only way that some couples are able to have a healthy living child.
Usually egg donation with PGD will be offered to:
- Women who produce no eggs and the male partner carries a defective gene.
- Women who can produce eggs, but too few for successful PGD themselves, and the male partner carries a defective gene.
- Women who carry the defective gene but the male partner is healthy
In all these cases an egg donor will be necessary to help prevent a couple from passing on the gene to their child.
After egg collection and fertilisation, the fertilised embryos develop for three days and then one or two cells are removed from each embryo. The genetic material (DNA and chromosomes) from the cells are tested for the disorder which is known to exist in the family. Up to two unaffected embryos are then transferred and if the pregnancy is successful the baby should be free from the disorder itself.
PGD is only offered if the condition is serious and the risk is high. In most of these situations the couple will likely have experienced numerous miscarriages or medical termination of pregnancy(ies) or death of young babies and possibly children who have died in early infancy. Some of the couples may be living with severe medical conditions and disabilities themselves and others may have experienced the death of family members from the condition and wish to avoid any child from inheriting the disorder.
A few facts:
- A PGD cycle usually costs around £12,000
- It involves a team of about 30 professionals
- It requires a special license given by the HFEA
- Plus … one very special donor to enable a couple to start a family