Choosing an Egg Donor: How Important is a Genetic Counselor?
My clients often ask we know if the information a donor reports on her application is true? And the truth is you don't and in fact there may be hereditary issues that she is not aware of just as you may have genetic issues that you are not aware of. You need to take a leap of faith and realize that you often have more information about your egg donor than you do about your partner. That said, there are a few checks and balances so that you don't have to feel that you are diving in blind. I think that most donors tend to be pretty straightforward when they complete their donor profiles but I also think it is a wise choice to work with a genetic counselor.
Much like a psychologist can tease out more information when they interview an egg donor than is reported on her egg donor profile, so to can the genetic counselor tease out more information that the donor may not have thought of or known about when completing her egg donor profile.
This is because Genetic counselors are trained to ask targeted questions based on the family history, and to know which conditions may share a genetic basis. An example is hyperthyroidism; multiple sclerosis, asthma, and psoriasis all are autoimmune conditions and likely share an underlying genetic basis. Due to practical experience in evaluating so many family histories, certain patterns that are suspicious of mental health or substance abuse issues can also be uncovered. If there is missing information the GC can ask the donor to get more information from the family and can also request medical records for documentation. Many times the additional information, which comes out of the genetics consult, is information that the donor did not know, not that she was withholding.
The genetic counselor will need to interview you and your partner as well as the egg donor. Even if your eggs’ are not being used it is important to gather information about your genetic health history since it could have a bearing on your pregnancy. Your partner or the sperm provider contributes ½ of the genetic material to your embryos. Appropriate screening is important so as not to miss genetic screening that can be offered to the intended father and / or the donor prior to pregnancy.
From these interviews the genetic counselor will be able to recommend if further genetic testing is merited. Once the genetic testing is complete the counselor can help interpret the results of the test to help you to make an educated decision.
Special thanks to:
Amy Vance MS, CGC
Licensed and Board Certified Genetic counselor
Founder,Bay Area Genetic Counseling