Reproductive Choices

Egg Donation

This involves using the egg of a donor woman combined with sperm of the father.  

This treatment is effective for both Mitochondrial DNA defects and for Nuclear DNA defects and ensures the resulting child will be free from Mitochondrial Disease.

The child will be genetically related to the father but not the mother.

Sperm Donation

This involves using the sperm of a donor male combined with egg of the mother.  

This treatment is only effective for Nuclear DNA defects but ensures the resulting child will be free from Mitochondrial Disease.

The child will be genetically related to the mother but not the father.

IVF with PGD (see Q28)

This technique involves IVF treatment using the mothers egg and the fathers sperm so the resulting child will be genetically related to both parents. The process involves creating a number of embryos through the normal IVF process and then screening these using a process called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) to identify embryos that look healthy and are either free from disease or carry low levels of mutation.

The screening process is very effective for nuclear DNA mutations as it can give a definite yes or no answer.

Results from mitochondrial DNA mutations however may be less clear. Clinicians are usually able to advise families the % of faulty mitochondrial DNA which is then compared against theoretical disease thresholds. Borderline results however mean that families may not be able to get the assurance they need to take forward into pregnancy. Q28 gives more information on this area.

For some women who carry 'homoplasmic mutations' this technique will not be successful and for these families, and for families where PGD has not been successful, there has recently been a medical breakthrough called Mitochondrial Donation.

Mitochondria Donation

This technique involves using the mothers egg, the fathers sperm and the healthy mitochondria from a donor woman. The resulting child will be genetically related to both parents and will have a tiny 0.02% of mitochondrial DNA from the donor woman.

This treatment is only affective for mothers that carry Mitochondrial DNA defects but it can help some families that IVF with PGD cannot.

UK legislation was passed in Feb 2015 to allow this technique to be offered on a case by case basis to suitable affected families.

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