Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Sister Has Ovarian Cancer: I Want To Be Her Surrogate, What Is The First Step?


Hello. My sister has been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and is going to have a hysterectomy. We have discussed it, and I would like to carry a baby for her using her eggs and her husbands sperm. I live near Ottawa Ontario and she lives in Calgary AB. I was wondering what the first step would be, and who we should call to get this process started before it is too late.


Hello C. from Canada,

I am sorry to hear about your sister, but the good news is that we do have the technology to help her have a child in exactly the way you mention. It is called IVF (in vitro fertilization) with surrogate. Your sister needs to contact an IVF center immediately. They will then have several options: the eggs can be removed to be fertilized and used later, or she could go through the IVF cycle completely and the fresh embryos placed directly into your uterus. In either case, you would be the surrogate. An IVF cycle will take two weeks minimum, so she will need to do this quickly, before her surgery. With ovarian cancer, you don't want to delay much.

The infertility specialist should coordinate things with her Gyn oncologist so that everybody is on the same page. Once the eggs are removed (egg retrieval), she can then undergo her surgery. Stimulation should be strong to try to retrieve as many eggs as possible so that any residual eggs/embryos can be frozen for later use if the first cycle fails or for another sibling. The IVF center will advise you on your role as a surrogate, do all the planning necessary and prepare your uterus to accept the embryos.

For more information, there is a very good non-profit here in the U.S. called "Fertile Hope", (which has recently been acquired by Lance Armstrong's Live Strong organization). This organization has a lot of information regarding cancer patients and their reproductive options. There is a section on the website for healthcare professionals that I have used called "Options At A Glance", which gives you a good idea of all the methods available for fertility preservation. See this link: .

This is a wonderful thing that you are trying to coordinate and the best of luck to all of you!

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.
Twitter with me at @montereybayivf and follow me on Facebook at

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