From 2010, since she found out she carries cancer causing BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene) mutation, she was determined not to pass on the cancer-causing oncogene to her children. Hence, with the help of all modern techniques, Bengaluru’s Swayam Prabha gave birth to twins who don’t carry the mutation, which is first of such case in the country.
Swayam Prabha married Bengaluru based IT professional Debasis Panigrahi in 2010. After a few months, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since Swayam’s uncle, her mother’s sisters and cousins had cancer, the doctors at Tata Memorial Centre in Parel asked her and her siblings to undergo a genetic test for oncogenes. When the test results came, only Swayam had the BRCA1 genes. She was advised to undergo surgeries for removing her breasts and ovaries. But since she wanted to ensure that her husband’s family has a healthy baby, she waited before taking such drastic steps like removal surgeries. As she wished, when she met Dr. Firuza Parikh, she was advised not to go any removal surgery. Instead, Dr. Parikh and her team used pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) and transferred healthy embryos without BRCA1 mutation and transferred it into the womb of a 37-year-old. “With IVF, we managed six embryos for Swayam,” said Parikh who runs the FertilTree-Jaslok International Fertility Centre. While two embryos were not viable, two carried the mutation and the other two didn’t. According to Dr. Parikh, Swayam’s case is the first in India where threats posed by oncogenes were removed. She also added that Worldwide, PGT has been used to keep out BRAC1 & 2 genes in roughly 150 cases. Dr. Parikh had previously used PGT to help couples to have healthy kids.

Every year, nearly 8 million children with defects due to genetic reasons are born in India. In such cases, PGT can play a role in preventing birth defects. PGD/T are done by only a handful of IVF centers in urban areas, says  Ahmedabad-based Dr. Manish Banker, former president of the Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR). He also adds that Five years back, PGD cost double of what it does now at Rs 15,000-20,000 per embryo. It increases the chances of a pregnancy in IVF cycles and is advisable if the woman is older.
Relieved for getting healthy kids, Swayam says, “My mother has cancer and her sisters passed away due to it. I have the BRCA1 mutation, increasing my risk of cancer, but this cancer cycle will end with me. My children have been spared!!
PGD/T is helpful for those parents whose children could’ve diseases such as Down’s syndrome or Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. Angelina Jolie, a famous Hollywood actress had both BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that increased her chances of cancer which resulted in her to undergo surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries. But here, Swayam had the only BRCA1 gene, hence diminishing the need of a surgery.

Image credits: Times of India.