Genetic Testing

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Kareena says “for people who say you shouldn't interfere with nature, it's like saying you shouldn't have penicillin cos it wasn't invented years ago, things are changing, I think we should be able to embrace some of that change” 43 year old mum Kareena Waters is embracing change - quite literally. Daughter Maisy was the first IVF baby born in WA, after being screened for genetic defects before being implanted in her mum. “A lot of people assume women on IVF are all materialistic career women who've left their run in life too late and that are not the case”

Kareena has three adult children - daughter Kesten's the eldest. Kareena remarried last year Maisy's her first baby with new husband Garry. After three failed IVF attempts, the couple were offered pre-implantation genetic screening to check for abnormalities. The result - healthy, normal, Maisy.

Kareena says “to us, it was to make sure I there was something we couldn't cope with, and being older parents we have to be aware of the factors that if a child was born with something like downs syndrome and that, they need a lot of long term care and as older parents that was a consideration for us as well”

Bruce says “we don't do social engineering; these are purely for medical conditions only” Reproductive biologist Doctor Bruce Bellinge denies the procedure is about “playing god". He says it avoids the moral dilemma of women having terminations up to twenty weeks into pregnancies when genetic abnormalities are usually detected. Checks for conditions like Downs Syndrome, cystic fibrosis and dwarfism are done before the embryo is implanted. “What we do very early on in the peace, 4 cell stage, 8 cell stage is to take one single cell from that developing embryo and assess it, analyse it for these chromosomal abnormalities”They put fluorescent dye into the cell they had removed from the embryo and the dye actually attaches itself to the chromosome so we can see.

Karenna says “we thought long and hard about it and for us it was to give we closure if things weren't right because of my age”

Nick says “I don't think genetic testing in itself is morally wrong, I think genetic testing where you're not going to treat the disorder, but you're going to simply eliminate the person with the disorder, I think that's wrong” Ethicist Nick Tonti-Filippini describes genetic screening as "reproductive discrimination." “The reality is the most perfect child turns out to be a screaming 2 year old and then a grotty adolescent, so as a parent you just have to accept what comes”

"there's no such thing as perfect kids, perfect teenagers, they all give you a run for your money” Kareena says she knows what she's in for - and appreciates the choice, “I don't think anyone should sit in judgement in anyone wanting to be a parent”