“…we just love the café culture of Melbourne and the outdoors lifestyle where we can go out all year-round”.
Thousands of Victorian women now have access to non-invasive prenatal testing for the early detection of genetic abnormality in their unborn babies, thanks to Genetic Counsellor, Melody Menezes, who migrated to Victoria from Canada in 2006.
Melody said it was her trips back to Canada to visit the family – stopping at medical conferences in the US on the way – that lead her to discovering and learning more about the developments of this new testing.
“I followed the progression of this new testing for two years as more than five percent of our patients were in the high risk category due to the age and other factors and while most babies were going to be completely fine, they still had to go through invasive testing,” she said.
“There was a lot of red tape and hurdles, but I was really wanting to help women come up with an alternative as the tests we did have were invasive and putting the pregnancies at risk.”
Through sheer tenacity, smarts and hard work, Melody was given the green light to introduce the test in 2013 – her ultrasound clinic was the first in Victoria and one of the first in Australia to offer the non-invasive prenatal testing.
“Women were demanding it before it was introduced – we had a wait list as they had heard about it on Bub Hub and through friends…some were even willing to fly to the US to have it done if we couldn’t get it in for them,” Melody said.
“It’s a massive benefit for our patients and all pregnant women as it reduces the risk and allows people to make informed decisions with the chromosomes.” Melody is now the Chief Genetic Counsellor at the Monash Ultrasound for Women.
She received permanent residency two years ago – and 18 days before the birth of her son Lachlan.
She initially moved to Melbourne as an international student with her boyfriend (now husband) to study Genetic Counselling at the University of Melbourne in 2006.
After completing her PhD in Genetic Counselling, Melody and her husband, Jamie, wanted to call Melbourne home.
“Melbourne is at the forefront in genetic counselling and here we have great work/life balance,” Melody said.
“It’s hard not having immediate family, especially since we have had a child but we do Skype once a week and we have made some great friends through study and my mother’s group and we get staggered visits from our family.
“We just love the café culture of Melbourne and the outdoors lifestyle where we can go out all year-round and take Lachlan to the park all year-round.”