In 1996, Hadassah University Hospital became the first hospital in Israel to run a PGD program.
Employing the latest diagnostic methods in the Department of Genetics has enabled the PGD Unit at Hadassah to be the first facility to induce pregnancies and births of healthy children to women carriers of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 (breast and ovarian cancer gene)
The PGD Unit at Hadassah was also the first in the world where healthy children were born who were not carriers of a genetic disorder of a disease similar to mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease), which can be be expressed at a later time.
Recently, the pregnancy and birth of a healthy child, without the genetic blood disorder of thalassemia was done using this method. This particular embryo was selected, not only since it did not carry thalassemia, but also due to the fact that if the pregnancy proceeded without complications, stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord blood could be transplanted to the child's sister, a thalassemia patient, and could cure her of her illness. The new baby could start life with a noble deed – saving his sister's life.
This story began when a young couple from India turned to Hadassah for help in treating their daughter who suffers from thalassemia. They were told that only a bone marrow transplant could save her. Since the bone marrow should be a perfect genetic match, Hadassah physicians, Dr. Michael Shapira from the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Dr. Ariel Revel from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, offered a unique solution. They suggested the mother have another child, conceived through in vitro fertilization (ivf
) so the eggs could be tested by PGD to determine which of the eggs were in genetic match and free of the defective genes. The couple agreed.
The Department of Genetics joined the effort, tested the 19 eggs taken from the mother, and found one that was a match. The egg was fertilized in an ivf
procedure, and returned to the mother's womb. This ability to choose a healthy fetus that can contribute stem cells to a sibling in need of a bone marrow transplant shows the excellence, skill, and high capacity of the Unit and the Department of Genetics.
Pregnancy rates in the ivf
units at Hadassah are better than the average reported by the European Society for Fertility. So far, 102 children have been born at Hadassah Hospital after pre-implantation diagnosis, and tests during and after the pregnancy show that there was not a single mishap in diagnoses that were made prior to implantation.
The Hadassah unit operates a hotline for referrals at 02-6777369 in order to provide quick answers.