Paternity testing easy, cheap

2009-07-19 00:00

HAVING spent a great deal of her 29 years in a desperate search for her father, a Pietermaritzburg woman has not only been able to trace her biological father, but the process of proving his paternity has been made easy, all thanks to a home testing DNA kit that is now available over the counter.

The woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she was born in Kenya. However, since her parents never really had a relationship, she has never known her father.

Any prospects of her ever finding her father were further complicated by the fact that her mother, who is German, left the country for South Africa when she was only two.

“Growing up, my mother never wanted me to know who my father was. I knew his name only because it was on my birth certificate. And that is what I have been going on. I have always looked, stopped and tried again. That has basically been the story of my life,” she said.

She could not believe her luck when about two months ago she googled her father’s name and found a match, having done similar searches countless times.

“I found him listed in a company website he co-founded. It must be new because it is the first time something has come up.

“I called him that same day. He seemed very happy to hear from me. We have been in contact via SMS and at some stage we are planning to meet.”

Eager to know if the man was really her father, she also went on the Internet to see what DNA testing options were available for her since a formal pathology test was out of the question with her father in another country.

That’s when she came across DNA Test, a South African company based in Hillcrest that specialises in online family relationship testing.

She immediately registered for a testing kit, which was mailed to her, while another kit was mailed to her father from their Kenyan offices.

Within two weeks of having submitted their swab samples for testing, the result confirmed what she had so long dreamt of.

The woman, who has two children aged five and three, said she is very excited about finding her father since, after a long and at times frustrating search, it has brought closure for her.

“I unfortunately come from a family that has never been close and this is something that I have always been missing and wanted closure on. I don’t think it has changed my life yet because we have not had proper contact. But I do hope it goes well because I want to forge a relationship with my father.”

DNA Test managing director Nevin Pillay said the kit contains oral collection swabs that look like an ear-bud with toothbrush bristles.

You brush the inside of your mouth and put the swab in the provided sterile pack.

The Hillcrest office then sends the collection swaps to their Australian partner company, where the test is done.

Pillay said his company has been trading as an online family relationship testing service for a year, but recently introduced a kit sold in pharmacies since most South Africans do not have access to the Internet.

He said their service is confidential.

Explaining how the test works, he said: “If you know biology, you’ll know that half of our genetic makeup comes from our mother and the other half from our father.

“We look for certain markers or regional indicators in the strands … to be in synch.”

For paternity or maternity testing they test only 16 regions, which he said is 99,9% accurate. For more complicated DNA testing, however, such as trying to prove the father of the child between two brothers, 23 regions are tested. According to Pillay the accuracy in this type of testing is 99,9999%.

The kit is available from any Sparkport pharmacy countrywide for R150.

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