Proud parents urge HSE to fund genetic screening of embryos

Pre-implantation test helped couple who carry Cystic fibrosis gene have healthy baby

Baby Bridget, daughter of Patrick Mullane and Lisa Cooke from Cork,  at Cork University Maternity Hospital where she was born on June 27th following pre-implantation genetic diagnosis at the Cork Fertility Centre

Baby Bridget, daughter of Patrick Mullane and Lisa Cooke from Cork, at Cork University Maternity Hospital where she was born on June 27th following pre-implantation genetic diagnosis at the Cork Fertility Centre

Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:00

BARRY ROCHE

Southern Correspondent, Cork

A couple, who have had the first baby born in the Republic of Ireland following a technique to screen embryos for genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, have called for the procedure to be funded by the HSE to help couples anxious about having a child with CF.

Patrick Mullane and Lisa Cooke from Cork are still celebrating the birth of their first child, Bridget, at Cork University Maternity Hospital where she was born on June 27th following pre-implantation genetic diagnosis at the Cork Fertility Centre.

Patrick (33) has CF and when they discovered that Lisa (24) carries the CF gene, they spoke to their GP who discussed the PGD treatment with them and referred them to the Cork Fertility Clinic where they were advised by consultant obstetrian, Dr John Waterstone on the procedure.

Dr Waterstone said that one in 19 Irish adults is a carrier with the altered gene that causes CF and approximately one in 400 couples are at risk of having an affected baby but PGD offers couples the opportunity to have an embryo screened for the disease.

“PGD allows couples at risk of a specific inherited condition to avoid passing it on to their children. Conception takes place through IVF treatment and embryos are tested for the condition before being transferred,” said Dr Waterstone.

PGD treatment for CF at the Cork Fertility Centre costs €9,800 and although Cystic Fibrosis Ireland provides support to people with CF undergoing fertility treatment with a grant of €3,000 for first time applicants, Patrick and Lisa believe the HSE should also assist.

“We believe that PDG treatment should be funded by the HSE and it should also be mandatory for people with CF - the cost of PGD treatment to ensure a child is born without CF far outweighs the lifetime cost of treating a CF patient,” said Patrick.

Lisa said:”Initially when we discovered that I was a carrier, we thought we would never have children as we made the decision not to have a family - we felt the risk of having a baby with CF which was one in two for us was just too great.

“But we were just overwhelmed with happiness when Bridget arrived safely in the world - PGD has given us the opportunity to create the family that we have dreamed of and talked of for years and we would love to have a brother or sister for Bridget in time.”

Patrick and Lisa expressed their gratitude to Dr Waterstone and everyone at the Cork Fertility Centre in particular for keeping them informed at every stage and they urged anyone in a similar situation to seriously look at PGD as a means of starting a family.

“Our advice to anyone anxious about the risk of having a child with CF or some other genetic condition, “ said Patrick “ is they should look at PGD - this treatment gives hope that there is a solution available and it’s fantastic it’s now provided in Cork and you don’t need to travel.”