Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PIGD)

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PIGD) is another possible option for couples who do not want to have a child with sickle cell disease yet feel, for whatever reason that they are unable to consider termination of an affected pregnancy. This option is only available to those at risk of having a child with sickle cell anaemia (LINK TO PIGD SECTION).

The process involves removing mature eggs from the woman’s ovary. The eggs are then fertilised in the laboratory with sperm obtained from her partner or a sperm donor (if this option is chosen). The developing embryo (egg) is then tested for the genetic condition. If the embryo does not have the condition the fertilised egg is placed in the woman’s womb for a pregnancy to become established and continue. This process is often referred to as ‘in vitro fertilisation (IVF)’ or ‘test tube baby’.

This is still a very new method for couples at risk of having a child with sickle cell disease, and other genetic conditions. Only a few specialist hospital Centres offer this facility. If an individual is interested in this option they need to discuss it with their GP, genetic nurse counsellor or a specialist nurse at one of the National Sickle Cell / Thalassaemia Centres.

Although the service is provided in an NHS hospital, the service is usually offered privately and the woman or couple may need to pay.