Couples with the deadly Sickle Cell Anaemia can now have healthy babies without traits of the disease. A renowned fertility expert, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, said the new breakthrough called Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is used alongside IVF and allows experts to implant a healthy embryo that will not be affected by sickle cell into a female recipient, irrespective of her genotype or that of her husband.
“What we do is to first stimulate the woman to produce many eggs. We then take the eggs, fertilize them with the husband’s sperm and allow them to grow for three days in the laboratory.
On the third day, we take these embryos and analyze them for any anomalies. If there are 10 embryos, we analyze all of them, based on that, we know the complete type and make-up of each of these embryos.
We are then able to screen the bad or abnormal embryos and we take the normal embryos and insert back into the woman for fertilization.’’
Ashiru added that the first healthy sickle cell free baby using the new technology was delivered in 2013, and his laboratory is currently supervising many of similar procedures.
He, however, disclosed that prospective recipients of the treatment must neither be aged, nor have adverse medical history. He also cautioned that it costs about N3, 000,000 and it’s better for young people to undergo the necessary tests to avoid the risk of marrying people with the genetic disorder.