Help! My Egg Donor Has A Genetic Disease!

Many intended parents looking for an egg donor are scared when they find out that their egg donor is a carrier of an inherited disease. This information may be on the donor’s profile, after she’s been through a successful donation cycle.

They often make a rash decision not to match with a donor who has a known carrier status, fearing that this means their child will be born with a non-treatable genetic illness.

But this fear may also mean they lose out on a great egg donor whose carrier status implies no significant risk to their offspring.

We all have a number of recessive genes mutations that do not cause disease as we have a normal functioning copy of the gene that is enough to avoid the disease.

Many types of genetic disorders are transmitted by the autosomal recessive pattern. It means that if a person has both of the defective genes from their parents they could develop the disease. However if they are only a carrier they won’t show any sign or symptom of the disease but there is a chance that they transmit the carrier status to their biological child.

So the short answer to this question “would my child get the disease if my egg donor is a carrier?” is NO, if the genetic transmission pattern is autosomal recessive and the father is not a carrier of the same disease.

It is important for intended parents to understand that there is a difference between being a carrier of a specific disease and having the actual disease. It is also essential for them to understand the chances of having a baby with that particular disease when the genetic maternal link – the egg donor - is a carrier.

If intended parents are worried about anything, we always recommend that they consult with a genetic counselor, who will discuss their family history and that of the donor. Companies like GenePeeks provide even more peace of mind, by testing both the donor and the sperm contributor, to predict the combined risk to the future child.

Our advice to intended parents is always to refer your fears to your fertility doctor and a qualified genetic counselor. While some of these genetic markers may sound ominous, they could be a normal part of our own genetic makeup with no bearing on the health of your future children.

-Dr. Shiva Fate is a Medical Consultant and Senior Case Manager at Donor Concierge. Shiva holds a Medical Doctorate degree from Azad Medical University of Tehran and also a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of California.