First Irish birth involving PGD

by Deborah Condon 

The healthy baby girl, Bridget, was born on June 27 at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

PGD allows people with a specific inherited condition the option of trying to avoid passing it on to their own children.

People who are candidates for PGD include carriers of single gene defects, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common genetic disease in Ireland. Other candidates include people who themselves are affected by chromosomal disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy, haemophilia A and fragile X syndrome.

The PGD technique involves generating a number of embryos via IVF (in vitro fertilisation). With IVF, a woman’s eggs are fertilised with sperm outside the body in a test tube and the resulting embryo is placed back inside her womb.

In the case of PGD, before the embryos are put into the womb, they are biopsied, which means one cell is carefully removed from each cell. These biopsied cells are then sent to the UK to be analysed.

Only those embryos that are diagnosed as being unaffected by the particular condition are selected for transfer into the womb of the woman.

Commenting on the birth, Dr John Waterstone, a consultant obstetrician at CUMH and medical director of the Waterstone Clinic who delivered the baby, described the birth as ‘an important milestone in Irish reproductive medicine’.

The parents of baby Bridget, Patrick Mullane and Lisa Cooke, opted for PGD as they were at risk of having a baby with CF.

PGD is ‘the most technically challenging treatment in assisted reproduction’, according to the Waterstone Clinic, which is one of only two Irish IVF units to have attempted it.

Also commenting on the birth, the centre’s head of research and development, Dr Xiao Zhang, said that they are ‘delighted’ with Bridget’s birth.

“It is the result of a lot of hard work over the past few years validating and perfecting the underlying laboratory processes,” he added.