Genetics 101 for Egg and Sperm Donation

What do you need to know about the genetics of a potential egg donor or sperm donor? What type of genetic testing is available both pre and post conception? Host Dawn Davenport talked with Dr. Harvey Stern, Director of Genetics and the Fetal Diagnostic Center at Genetics & IVF Institute, medical director of Fairfax Cryobank and of GIVF’s Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) program, and supervisor the genetic screening for GIVF’s egg donors and for Fairfax Cryobank’s sperm donors; Dr. Lee Silver, a molecular biology professor at Princeton; author of over 200 research articles on genetics and computational modeling, as well as two of the leading academic genetic textbooks, and the founder and chief science advisor at Genepeeks; and Stephanie Andriole, a genetics counselor at Comprehensive Genetics with a masters in human genetics where she advised both prenatal and preconception patients.

Hit the Highlights
  • What is the difference between recessive genetic traits and dominant genetic traits and how does it impact sperm and egg donation?
  • What common diseases do we know have a single genetic cause?
  • What are the most common diseases that are carried by recessive genes?
  • Can we do genetic tests for diseases that we know or assume have multifactorial genetic connections?
  • How do sperm banks and egg donation agencies, clinics or egg banks get reliable information on genetic based diseased in donors?
  • How much info is typically available on sperm donors and how much more is available for a fee?
  • How important is family history in determining health risks in potential donors?
  • What genetic tests on donors are standard sperm banks and egg donor agencies, infertility clinics, and egg banks?
  • What genetic tests should intended parents consider on themself when deciding on an egg donor or sperm donor?
  • Is genetic testing done on blood or saliva?
  • How common is it for donors to carry recessive genes for diseases?
  • Can we map the genome of the egg donor or sperm donor and would it be useful information for the donor conceived child?
  • How much does it cost to have genetic testing done on sperm donors or egg donors?
  • How many genes should be tested?
  • How can we eliminate the risk of choosing a donor who will pass on a genetic defect for disease?
  • Is it possible to screen sperm donors or egg donors to rule out autism?
  • Is it possible to screen sperm donors or egg donors to rule out breast cancer?
  • Is it possible to screen sperm donors or egg donors to rule out heart disease?
  • Is it possible to do genetic testing on donors to select for eye color, height, and intelligence?
  • What are the options if a known donor is found to be a carrier of a recessive linked disease and the intended parent is also?
  • Is the genetic information on the sperm donors or egg donors shared with the donor?
  • What are some of the ethical issues surrounding genetic screening in egg donation or sperm donation?