Saving Family Members’ DNA

Using DNA to identify people has become routine. After 9/11 and other tragedies, the importance of DNA has become even more clear. As genomic technologies improve and our understanding of disease genes increases, we will be able to use DNA for even more beneficial purposes to improve our health. Saving our own DNA as well as those of family members creates an important treasure trove of information for the future.

The City of San Bruno in Northern California has laid out steps for how to preserve DNA.

What you will need

* Disposable Latex Gloves
* Paper envelope – preferably self-sealing
* Cotton Swabs

Steps to Collect DNA

1. Prepare a seperate envelope for each person to be sampled. Write the person’s full name, date of birth and date of sample taken on the envelope.
2. Put on a pair of gloves
3. Cut a cotton swab in two so that you have two short swabs, each with only one cotton end.
4. Have the people you are going to sample brush their teeth or rinse loose food particles out of their mouths.
5. Wearing gloves, insert the cotton end of the swab inside the mouth of the person you are sampling. Rub the swab gently against the inside of the cheek. Use enough pressure that they feel it, but not enough to hurt.
6. Place the swab into the person’s envelope.
7. Change gloves and proceed to the next person.
8. Repeat Steps 3 – 7 until you have sampled everyone, making sure to change you gloves between each person.
9. Seal the envelopes. If you do not have self-sealing envelopes, moisten the flap with water. DO NOT LICK THEM! Your DNA might contaminate the sample.
10. Leave the envelopes out on a counter for about 24 hours to give the sample time to air dry. DO NOT heat them.
11. Place the envelopes in you freezer. DO NOT place them in a plastic bag or other airtight container. Your freezer will keep the samples dry and stable.
12. If the samples thaw out, simply refreeze them. Brief thawing and refreezing will not hurt them.

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