A consultation with a genetic counselor is an important part of the screening process to receive medical clearance for egg donation. During your appointment, the genetic counselor will review your personal and family health history to determine any potential hereditary conditions that could be passed on to a child. She will walk you through your family tree step-by-step, including your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and first cousins. While it’s important to share any and all family health history you have access to, the genetic counselor will, in particular, be looking for a pattern of any significant medical conditions within the family and issues that impact children, such as learning disabilities, chronic health problems or early death.
Per the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s guidelines for gamete donation, in addition to meeting with a genetic counselor, you will receive genetic testing (performed via a blood or saliva test) to screen for hereditary diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs, Fragile X and others. Based on your family health history, the genetic counselor may recommend additional testing.
It is becoming more common for donors to receive expanded genetic carrier screening, which screens for more than 100 diseases, to determine if the donor is a “carrier” for specific gene mutations that could result in a serious health condition being passed on to a child. Your physician and clinic will have set recommendations for genetic carrier screening, but an expanded carrier screening is something we encourage at Egg Donor Solutions to provide intended parents with as much information as possible regarding their child’s family health history and also to provide donors with important information about their own health. As one donor said, “Learning about my body when I did genetic testing was very good information to have, so that I am able to better take care of myself.”
Following the genetic consultation and carrier screening, you will receive copies of both reports. The genetic counselor will advise you if there are any implications to consider for your own health or your family’s health. It’s important to note that with expanded genetic carrier screening, the likelihood that you will test positive for one or more genetic mutations is increased. However, this does not mean that you cannot be an egg donor or that there is a significant health concern. The majority of the conditions being screened for are recessive, meaning that it takes a recessive gene from both the egg and sperm source to pass a condition on to a child. For non-X-linked conditions, if you test positive for a recssive genetic mutation, your genetic screening panel will be compared to the intended father’s panel. If he is not a carrier for the same gene, then there is no risk of passing on the condition to a child conceived with your egg and the intended father’s sperm.
If you have any questions or concerns about genetic screening, please reach out to your Care Coordinator at Egg Donor Solutions. Our team is here to advocate for you and ensure a smooth and successful journey. We are so thankful for you and your role in helping to create a happy family!