Genetic testing continues to improve at a rapid rate. Subsequently, more and more of us are finding out we are carriers of genetic conditions. We know egg donors with carrier status are healthy and do not have the condition. Despite this, knowing one of the biological parents is a carrier presents new knowledge that requires action. Only when both biological parents are carriers for the same condition, is there a significant risk to the pregnancy.
For any of us who have had expanded genetic carrier testing done, it comes as no surprise that we find we are a carrier for at least one condition from the long list. About 70% of us will get the news we are healthy carriers of a genetic condition. The list of tested conditions will continue to increase in the future. As this happens, we fully expect the chance of a positive result to go up as well. The egg donors at Fairfax EggBank are no exception, as most who have the expanded testing are indeed healthy carriers of at least one condition.
Is the egg donor known to be a carrier for a recessive genetic condition? If so, the priority is to find out if the male partner or sperm source has tested for the same condition. We must confirm that they test negative for the same condition and consequently at reduced risk. With only one of the biological parents a confirmed carrier, the match is considered a suitable one and at low risk. A trained set of eyes can make that determination, and it can be done easily and allow you to move forward with confidence that risks are indeed low.
Does the male partner or sperm source still need to be tested? If so, then other option needs to be fully explored before a final decision can be made. Options include having the biological father tested and then moving forward once the results are negative and at reduced risk. If the biological father cannot complete the test, then options to use a different donor should be considered. A genetic counselor can also review the risks of using an untested partner, including a discussion of the condition in question and what your unique risks would be if you chose to continue without testing. If those risks are acceptable, then you may decide to move forward without testing. Your clinic and Fairfax EggBank want to make sure you get all the support you need to make this important decision.
Advanced genetic testing is quickly becoming a standard part of the screening process for both egg donors and their recipients. Although finding that suitable match can add an extra step in the selection process, the goal of having a healthy outcome continues to be everyone’s priority.
About the Author, Suzanne Seitz, MS MPA – Certified Genetic Counselor at Fairfax EggBank
Suzanne is a certified genetic counselor at Fairfax EggBank and Fairfax Cryobank. She is a graduate of the genetic counseling program at Sarah Lawrence College with an MS in Human Genetics. Suzanne also has a Masters in Public Administration with a focus on health care from the University of Colorado. She has her board certification from the American Board of Medical Genetics and the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Her experience includes working as a genetic counselor at Columbus Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs and the Genetics & IVF Institute. She has extensive experience in both pediatric and prenatal services.
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