Few of you know Jill, but in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, she was probably the most indispensable person in our IVF program. She was our genetic counselor.
At the time, the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas was one of the highest volume preimplantation genetic testing (PGD) centers in the world. Having both Jacques Cohen and Santiago Munne under one roof attracted patients from just about everywhere: patients with recurrent pregnancy loss, patients with translocations, patients with cystic fibrosis and other genetic diseases who sought to avoid passing disease to their children. At the time PGD was offered in a small number of centers, so we did a lot of it.
These cases were not simple. For example, sometimes we needed to design special fluorescent probes that would demonstrate the translocated pieces of chromosomes that, if passed on to a child in an unbalanced way, could result in fetal death. Few patients had the background to understand what we were doing without a lot of teaching; the need for informed consent meant that we did this type of teaching for every case.
Of course I should not say “we.” Doctors are not very good genetic counse...