So a few years ago, my wife had her DNA examined by some nice people in London (we had asked them to);

"The good news is you have a BRCA1 gene, the bad news is it's broken"

“The good news is you have a BRCA1 gene, the bad news is it’s broken”

My wife had gone to have the test because her mother (who died some years ago of ovarian cancer) had taken the test and was found to have a BRCA1 mutation. Getting the test was in practice simple but it did take a while for her to summon the courage. Given that she has no female relatives older than 40 (all of them have died of cancer) she was not expecting good news. But at the time, the news article below gave her new purpose to go get checked.

Cancer screening

Essentially, the HFEA was saying that it wanted to start considering genetic defects that were likely to significantly shorten your life, rather than just diseases that would cause immediate disability or illness from birth. Following this announcement, they invited couples to come forward and apply for a licence for BRCA1 screening. The idea being that once one couple (or two as it turned out) had gained a licence, the same licence could be used for future couples with a similar mutation. We immediatly volunteered and were one of two couples put forward in order for the HFEA to grant PGD (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis) clinics a licence to screen embryos for BRCA1. After a few months of back and forth (and some odd follow-up questions…) the HFEA approved the licence which led to this;

Nice to have our picture be front page news for the day

Nice to have our picture as front page news for the day

As we had been told the article we were interviewed for would be only be a short piece in the middle of the paper, being front page news was a bit of a shock. Having got a licence, we then went about having PGD IVF (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis and In-Vitro Fertilisation) so that we could have a child that was guaranteed not to have the same BRCA1 defect. And thanks to the previous publicity, the BBC was even kind enough to come film the process so that we got footage of the egg being conceived!


Not pictured is me kicking myself that the only working camera I had was my phone

Fun fact: when born, babies have smooshed faces and look like tiny buddhas <- probably not true

To go with this article, the BBC also interviewed me about how we felt about the process. They rather awkwardly decided to do this while my wife was recovering from general anaesthetic at the end of a long day…. I don’t come off well. Mercifully, the footage has never been aired as this story was replaced by things far more interesting.

Following this rather public start, things then went pretty normally and 9 months later (just in time for the first few months of my PhD) we got one of these child things (pictured right).

As it turned out, the small child wasn’t the terror that I had feared and was actually tons of fun to look after and raise. So about 9 months ago we decided to go back to the nice PGD people, pay them a not-unsubstantial amount of money and do it again!

So today (14/06/13) at 10:42 another one of those child things appeared.


TL;DR Wife gave birth to second child, probably gonna be busy for bit…..

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Emma Turner · 14 June 2013 at 13:19

Many congratulations! 🙂

Lucy Fairclough · 14 June 2013 at 13:44

This had the most unexpected but lovely ending! Congratulations both of you.

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