Egg Donation - Do not do IVF embryo genetic testing (PGS or PGT-A) with donor eggs !

Singaporean patients undergoing egg donation should beware of Malaysian IVF clinics trying to hard-sell highly expensive embryo genetic testing (PGS / PGT-A) to them. Some of these hard-selling tactics include:

(i) Playing on their fears of unknown genetic defects being carried by the egg donor. Singaporean patient should note that there are much cheaper alternative methods of genetic screening such as testing of the egg donor's blood sample before starting IVF, or NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing), which can be done after getting pregnant. A blood sample contains thousands of white blood cells, from which an abundant amount of DNA genetic material can be extracted. By contrast, only a few cells and tiny amount of DNA are extracted from the embryo during PGS (biopsy procedure). This makes it technically simpler and much cheaper to do genetic testing of the Egg Donor's blood sample, as compared to genetic screening of embryos with PGS / PGT-A.

(ii) Playing on their fears of Down syndrome. In reality, the chances of Down Syndrome with young donor eggs is extremely low. As seen in the attached tables and charts, the chances of Down Syndrome for a 20 year-old donor is 0.05% (1 in 2,000), while that for a 25 year-old donor is 0.083% (1 in 1,200). If patients are really worried about the possibility of Down syndrome, they can always do NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) after getting pregnant, which is very much cheaper than PGS (PGT-A).

(iii) Claiming that PGS (PGT-A) can improve the IVF success rates with donor eggs. This maybe true only for older women undergoing IVF with their own eggs, because of spontaneous genetic abnormalities that occur more frequently in the eggs of older women. Egg donors are typically very young, aged between 20 to 25 years of age, with very healthy eggs. Hence, PGS (PGT-A) will not further improve the already high IVF success rates of older women using donor eggs.

(iv) Playing on their biased preference for either a son or daughter. It is true that PGS (PGT-A) is the most effective method of sex-selection. But the question is whether it is moral and ethical for Malaysian IVF clinics to hard-sell such an expensive technique to Singaporean patients?

(v) Downplaying the risks of damaging the embryo during genetic testing with PGS (PGT-A). This is a highly delicate procedure that involves drilling a hole through the embryo shell (Zona Pellucidae), and extracting a few cells for genetic testing. No matter how well-trained is the lab staff (embryologist) doing the procedure, there is still a risk of human error. The more busy the IVF lab is, the greater the risk of human error, as lab staff are under pressure to complete procedures as fast as possible.

Interesting videos which inform patients that PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening), also known as PGT-A (Preimplantation Genetic Testing - Aneuploidy) is absolutely unnecessary for egg donation cycles: