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Alisha’s story: IVF and PGD treatment

Posted on 31.3.15

Alisha and her husband’s fertility journey was made more complex when they discovered that they were both carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene. Here she shares their story of opting for PGD treatment, which involves testing the embryos before implantation.

''I won’t delve too much into our pre-PGD (preimplation genetic diagnosis) story, but we came to discover that both my husband and I were carriers of cystic fibrosis, despite never having seen a case in either of our families. We decided that we weren’t willing to gamble on the one-in-four chance of conceiving naturally and having a baby with the disease.

I read everything I could get my hands on about PGD, and devoured what little I could find. After reading a piece by professor Alan Handyside, I was amazed to find that he worked at the Bridge Centre in London, so we booked an appointment. We met with clinical geneticist, Karen Sage, who talked us through our family histories and how the process would work.

From then we went through the standard IVF process. I spent a lot of that time getting into the best shape I’ve ever been in my life, to improve our chances. I remember at one very low point sitting with one of the doctors at the Bridge who told me:

‘You will have a baby. It may be a difficult journey to get there, but you will.’

So with that I pushed forward enduring the physical challenges. I hated the self injections at first, and the hormone swings, and the wait on tenterhooks for the right time to collect the eggs.

I had a very large collection of eggs – more than 20 – I think, of which a dozen or more fertilised and made it through to PGD testing. But in the end we didn’t get a single embryo that did not have the cystic fibrosis disease. All were either carriers or affected, so we decided to implant the two strongest embryos which were just carriers.

I remember so clearly the moment when we transferred the embryos which are now my twins. Waiting the two weeks and getting a positive pregnancy test left me in tears and terrified. We followed up a week or two later and the sonographer said: ‘Will it be pink boots or blue boots? Oh, I guess you’ll need two pairs of boots because you are having twins!’

Looking back, if you’d told me that I’d be a parent to twins, who were fertilised in a dish, who then had one of their tiny eight cells removed for testing, and then put back to implant, I wouldn’t have believed you, or understood what you were talking about.

A twin pregnancy is definitely higher risk in every way. In the end we delivered at 35 weeks, which was a relief after so many weeks of scans and worry. Luckily everything was fine and after two weeks in special care, my beautiful boy and girl twins came home. They have been a handful and driven me to tears (and peals of laughter), but they are the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

Before and during the PGD I scoured the internet, devouring any articles I could find, but there were few personal accounts. I really wanted to hear about others who had been through the same experience, and who had success stories to tell, and that’s why I wanted to share my story.''

PGD involves testing embryos before implantation and is suitable for patients at risk of having children affected by an inherited disease. For more information about PGD, please call us on 0203 819 3282.

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