DNA Memorial Canada

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Having a sample of your DNA will allow future generations to make more informed decisions concerning the quality of their lives.

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WHY WOULD I WANT TO STORE MY LOVED ONE’S DNA?

Immortalizing a loved one  DNA Banking allows the genetics of your loved ones to live on forever – even after death. Ashes or other keepsakes have no intrinsic value but the DNA will preserve that person’s essence of who they were in life; their unique genetic code. We prepare the sample to last indefinitely, and return it to you inside a stylish keepsake or a secure vial. Alternatively, you can choose to keep it in our facility.

Inherited Medical Information Genetic decoding is leading to a tsunami of information for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hundreds of diseases. Because DNA sequences are passed on with very little variation from one generation to the next, a DNA test of a 95 year old great-grandmother is of immediate and direct relevance to the health of her six-month-old great-grandson.  DNA Banking is an important step towards preserving that history and improving the health of future generations. Comparing past and present DNA yields medical information.  This may impact your medial prognoses and care.  Trends towards specific types of cancer, early heart disease, or even simple skin conditions may be determined. Compiling a family medical history can help doctors spot these family patterns and use the information to assist with the following:

  • Diagnosing a medical condition
  • Determining whether you may benefit from preventive measures to lower your risk of a specific disease
  • Deciding what medical tests to run /medications/medication dosage
  • Identifying other members of your family who are at risk of developing certain diseases
  • Calculating your risk of certain diseases
  • Calculating your risk of passing certain conditions to your children
  • Selecting effective therapies (gene therapy rapidly becoming a viable option)
  • Measuring mutation rates over generations (which can now predict health problems before they happen)

Ancestry Using specific DNA markers can also trace ancestry thousands of years back. Recently, some DNA markers have been used to link persons to individuals as far back as 5000 years (Breakthrough DNA study links B.C. woman, 5,500-year-old “grandmother” by Randy Boswell, Postmedia News July 5, 2013). This technology is in its infancy and most people don’t realize that DNA analysis was only invented in 1986 with a technique called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). There are also specific DNA types that have applications for ancestry and heritage research including STR (short tandem repeats) mtDNA, Y DNA and some rare DNA mutations. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is contained in the cytoplasm of the cell, rather than the nucleus. This type of DNA is passed by a mother to both male and female offspring without any mixing, so your mtDNA is the same as your mother’s mtDNA, which is the same as her mother’s mtDNA. mtDNA changes very slowly so it cannot determine close relationships as well as it can determine general relatedness. If two people have an exact match in their mtDNA, then there is a very good chance they share a common maternal ancestor, but it is hard to determine if this is a recent ancestor or one who lived hundreds of years ago. It is important to keep in mind with this test that a male’s mtDNA comes only from mothers and is not passed on to his offspring.

Example: The DNA tests that identified the bodies of the Romanovs–the Russian imperial family–utilized mtDNA from a sample provided by Prince Philip, who shares the same maternal line from Queen Victoria. Y chromosomal DNA is now being used to establish family ties. The Y chromosomal DNA test (usually referred to as Y DNA or Y-Line DNA) is only available for males, since the Y chromosome is only passed down the male line from father to son. Tiny chemical markers on the Y chromosome create a distinctive pattern, known as a haplotype that distinguishes one male lineage from another. Shared markers can indicate some degrees of relatedness between two men. Y chromosome testing is most often used by individuals with the same last name to learn if they share a common ancestor.

Example: DNA tests supporting the probability that Thomas Jefferson fathered the last child of Sally Hemming’s were based on Y-chromosome DNA samples from male descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s paternal uncle, since there were no surviving male descendants from Jefferson’s marriage. Markers on both mtDNA and Y chromosome tests can also be used to determine an individual’s haplogroup, a grouping of individuals with the same genetic characteristics. This test may provide you with interesting information about the deep ancestral lineage of your paternal and/or maternal lines.   As more ancestral markers are identified, DNA ancestry testing will become much more powerful than it is today. By keeping your family’s DNA, you are opening doors and creating exciting new opportunities that were never available before.

Legacy  Elevate the tradition of creating a family tree by allowing participants to save a sample of their DNA. Your family’s DNA will be safely preserved for generations to come. By starting this process you will become the patriarch or matriarch of your genetic linage with the information beginning with you. Thousands of years from now your sample will be the starting point for your family tree.

DNA, WHAT IS IT, WHY IT’S IMPORTANT AND WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT?

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences. In such a way everyone’s story is written differently.

WHY DON’T YOU DEAL DIRECTLY WITH THE PUBLIC?

We only use regulated funeral or death care providers because of the high standards of privacy and the sensitive nature of the product. We want to help families but are very concerned about privacy issues. Regulated service providers have strict confidentiality rules and regulations they must adhere to allowing us provide an exceptional service from initial contact with families to follow-up questions years later.

WHY IS THIS SERVICE DELIVERED THROUGH FUNERAL HOMES AND PALLIATIVE CARE ORGANIZATIONS?

The death care sector is the logical place for this service to be offered. No one likes to thinks about a loved one passing away. Therefore in the vast majority of cases no one has even thought about saving their family’s DNA. The funeral or palliative care partners are the last chance to save this invaluable information that someone’s DNA holds. They are very sensitive to family concerns and very tactful in their approach of the subject.

CAN I PURCHASE DNA MEMORIAL PRODUCTS FOR MYSELF?

Yes.  Your funeral director may offer all of the DNA Memorial products and services to you for your own use.  DNA Memorial services and products are an excellent addition to your own funeral pre-planning process.

HOW IS THE SAMPLE COLLECTED?

The sample is collected by completely non-invasive methods. A sterile cotton swab is rubbed on the inner cheek several times then allowed to air dry. This swab is then sealed and mailed back to our laboratory where we will extract (separate it from rest of the cell components), purify (remove any enzymes or chemicals that may damage it), stabilize it and preserve it to halt the degradation process. Using our proprietary method the DNA is bound very tightly to a substrate reinforcing its structure. The end product resembles a fine white dry powder.

DOES THE SAMPLE NEED TO BE COLLECTED FROM A CHEEK SWAB?

No, but the cheek swab yields high amounts of DNA.  We can also extract the DNA from hair or skin collected. With hair, ensure that several body hairs are collected and that these hairs still have the root attached.  As well, a light scraping of the skin will result in a sufficient amount of skin cells to extract the DNA. Detailed instructions for all of our collection methods are available.

HOW LONG WILL THE DNA LAST? WILL IT EVENTUALLY DEGRADE?

Under our storage conditions, the DNA will last indefinitely. Our researched and proprietary methods of halting the degradation process allows for room temperature storage and banking indefinitely. All custom jewelry, crystal art pieces and paintings include the Home Banking sample.

WHEN DNA GETS BANKED OR PUT INTO A KEEPSAKE, WHAT IS INVOLVED IN RESEARCHING IT FURTHER?

If a person decides that genetic analysis is necessary the DNA can be sent to qualified and specific labs.  At DNA Memorial, we will help facilitate the process. Preserved DNA provides families the comfort of a continuous option for genetic analysis, if and when required.  Prices and types of genetic tests improve every year making DNA preservation an investment.

WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DNA?

Commonly, DNA is returned to the family making it a home based private genetic record.  If the secure facility banking-with-us option is chosen, an account is set up when the sample arrives. We will issue a certificate of analysis, a banking agreement as well as your account number.  Only the persons listed on the agreement will have access to that account. Other people can be added in the future with the signed permission of the original account holders. We will not test, share or even acknowledge the existence of the account to any outside agencies for any reason including law enforcement. We are building our reputation on strictest confidentiality and quality of service.

WHAT IS A DNA MEMORIAL PORTRAIT?

For any of the DNA Memorial portraits we work with a very famous and talented memorial portrait artist who has done portraits for 911 victims, Arnold Palmer, Reggie Jackson, Martina Navratilova, Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry and Betty Davis. Her work is on display in California Police departments, Duke University and even the greeting card Hallmark Corporation’s head office. We supply her with the DNA sample in a powder form. The funeral home or individual family contacts her directly for portrait details. Her website is www.cassidyalexander.com.

MY FUNERAL HOME DOESN’T OFFER THIS SERVICE. WHAT DO I DO?

If the service provider doesn’t provide DNA Memorial currently please provide us the name and location or ask them to contact us and we will send the collection kits to them. They need not be an official location to still access our services. We do not deal with the public directly for services other than the banking-with-us option, but we do answer any questions, walk you through the process and deal with any concerns. We also warranty any products directly so if something is not satisfactory for any reason we deal with the complaints directly and try to get them resolved immediately.

DO I NEED TO DECIDE IMMEDIATELY?

No you do not have to decide immediately. The sample does have to be taken before cremation or interment but will still be viable for a few months. This allows family members to discuss and educate themselves about the subject. Many service providers will agree to store the sample for 60 days for you to make a decision. After that time has elapsed, we consider the sample questionable and would offer no guarantee that sample will be completely intact. The sample gets destroyed at the sixty day mark if the family has not responded, provided they chose the 60 day holding period when they contacted the service provider. This holding period is provided free of charge.

I’M NOT IN NORTH AMERICA CAN I STILL USE THIS SERVICE?

Tell your service provider to contact us directly and we will send them all the required items, paperwork and sampling kits. We are based in Canada but can service the global market anywhere with a reliable courier system.

WHY ARE YOU BASED IN THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO, CANADA?

Thunder Bay was not randomly chosen for this service. It is located 650 feet above sea level on the Canadian Shield of solid granite. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, massive flooding or earthquakes are unlikely. There is inexpensive reliable power from multiple sources and a solid infrastructure. Canada has very strict privacy laws regarding DNA in comparison with the rest of the world. There is an adequate supply of skilled workers from the biotechnology program at Lakehead University. There is also a technology cluster located here, including the Cancer Research Facility, University, and three other DNA laboratories.  These concentrated biotechnological facilities combined with our collaborative process will keep DNA Memorial on the cutting edge of genetic preservation.

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