Soup

It's easy to recognize the 12s, 13s, and 14s. Head, shoulders, and hips, just look for the bands for head, shoulders, and hips, (lab supervisor training author to identify and pair chromosomes for karyotyping) Why do we trypsinize the cells We trypsinize to eat away at the protein, to make the patterns more distinct, and to get them growing in sync so there are a lot of them in metaphase when we lift the cell button off the flask floor. (Veronica Pele, lab technician) Laboratories use the...

Endings Are Really Beginnings

IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTERS, I have attempted to analyze the social impact and cultural meanings of prenatal diagnosis from the perspectives of many different kinds of people pregnant women and their supporters who used or refused the test genetic counselors, geneticists, lab technicians, and others involved in the provision of relevant health services parents of children with some of the same disabilities that can now be diagnosed prenatally, and professionals who work with those children. I...

The Unexpected Baby

So they diagnosed Amelia right away, on the delivery table. She was barely out, I barely got a chance to catch my breath or marvel at my first baby when this doctor pours this bad news all over us. She's got Down syndrome, he says to us, very coldly. And after he tells us about blood tests and confirmations and all this stuff, we say to him, But what does that mean What should we expect And just as coldly he says, Don't expect much. Maybe she'll grow up to be an elevator operator. Don't expect...

How Methodology Bleeds into Daily Life

Why am I having amniocentesis I'm 42. I think at my age I'd be foolish, anyone would be foolish, not to have this test. (Brenda Kelly, white lawyer) What is the purpose to this test The purpose is to know what God has in store for you, so you can wonder at the marvels of his ways. (Lynthia Cato, 37, Trinidad-born factory worker) You ask me why I am crying I am crying because no one told me that I could have such a problem as sickle cell, that I carry this in my blood, and that it is now too...

Waiting and Watching

So I was three months pregnant before I knew I was pregnant. Just figured it was change of life. The clinic kept saying no, and it's really the same signs, menopause and pregnancy, you just feel that lousy. So when they told me I was pregnant I thought about abortion. I mean, maybe I figured I was too old for this. But in my neighborhood, a lot of Caribbean women have babies a lot of them are late babies. So I got used to it. But the clinic doctor was freaked out. He sent me for genetic...

An Error in Cell Division or The Power of Positive Diagnosis

When we walked into the doctor's office, both my husband and I were crying. He looked up and said, What's wrong Why are you both in tears It's our baby. Our baby is going to die, I said. That isn't a baby, he said firmly. It's a collection of cells that made a mistake. (Leah Rubinstein, 39, white homemaker) THE SHOCK OF RECEIVING BAD NEWS is never routine, no matter how ordinary its contents may be for the diagnostic laboratory. The discovery of an extra number 21 chromosome in fetal cells on a...

Notes

When I began this study, the waiting period for results was between three and four weeks. Over the following decade, improvements in growth media, banding reagents, computerization of chromosome sorting, and the very hard work of technicians have all contributed to a dramatic reduction in the time it takes to culture and analyze chromosomes. Average waiting time is now one week to ten days. 2. Autosomal recessive conditions are transmitted when each of two apparently healthy carriers passes on...

References

The Professional Stranger. New York, Academic Press. Alberman, E., D.Mutton et al. (1995). Down's Syndrome Births and Pregnancy Terminations in 1989 to 1993 Preliminary Findings. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 102(6) 445-447. Allen, Garland E. (1989). Eugenics and American Social History. Genome 31(2) 885-889. Altfeld, Susan, Arden Handler et al. (1997). Wantedness of Pregnancy and Prenatal Health Behavior. Women & Healt 26(4) 29-43. American Academy of...

Refusing

I wanted to take the test, but then he said no. At the hospital, I was all gung ho, but on the way home, he expressed his feelings. That whole night, he expressed his feelings. We went back and forth. The next day, I called up so many people. I have this religious aunt, she's the one that made me see Down syndrome, no need to take the test for Down syndrome. It's not necessary. Everything my husband said, she said, too. So I went, Ok, I won't take it. And I didn't take it. (Catherine Judd, 35,...

Accounting for Amniocentesis

We are in a fast-moving train, and we manage to learn how to eat in the train, even sleep in the train. But I don't think we think very much about where the train is going. Or, at the least, we are very simplistic Of course, geneticists are the ones creating the technology. But it is being created without too much thought. Of course, if you really want to get to the social issue, you'd better get to whoever is driving the train When I began, this work belonged in academic medicine now it is...