Saturday, January 8, 2011

Donor Eggs and Surrogacy: The Possibility Of A Healthy Pregnancy & A Healthy Child

Emily Dickinson said: "Dwell In Possibility". I thought I would start the New Year with a blog post that centers on possibilities. I believe that everyone should leave themselves open to the wide array of options that are available to women and men who are struggling with their family building quest. An interesting example of one possible option was brought to my attention recently through an article on the American Fertility Association website, "The Amazing Story of the Birth of the Twiblings". Iris Waichler reviews an article that appeared recently in the New York Times and reflects on the courage it took for the author to reveal the complex journey she took using an egg donor and 2 different gestational carriers who end up giving birth to twins that are born 5 days apart.

In the December 29th NY Times article, Melanie Thernstrom writes an intensely personal account regarding her infertility journey ("Meet The Twiblings"). Recently married at 41, she and her husband underwent multiple IVF cycles without success. Her physician tells her after she begs to try for the fifth time that she should consider other ways of having a family. He asks, “Is your goal to have the experience of being pregnant or is your goal to have the best chance of having a healthy baby?” Ms. Thernstrom not only writes with feeling and fluency of what follows, but imparts a great deal of important information that would be helpful for any of you who are facing the decision to use donor eggs, surrogacy or a combination of both. What makes this couple's case unique is that they desired to have twins. This meant that in order to avoid the complication of a multiple gestation in one surrogate, they chose to have two surrogates, and each became pregnant with one successfully implanted embryo. The cost involved in doing this is discussed as well, which the author admits is a huge factor in being able to go this route. This is unfortunately always a big part of being able to do any kind of assisted reproduction treatment, as many of you well know.

Yet, all in all, this is an article about the possibility of doing something that would have been impossible a generation ago. Surrogacy and egg donation are still impossible in many states and parts of the world. We are lucky that here in California the laws allow for these types of treatment paths with protection for the intended parents, the donors and the surrogates. As the Times article points out, there are also a number of reputable agencies and counselors that can help with navigating the selection process, with all the legal aspects and with emotional support. Coincidentally, I was emailed recently by a woman in Italy who cannot carry a pregnancy because she has a heart condition and was wondering what her options were. She is 37 years old and wants to use her own eggs. Since surrogacy for financial gain is banned in Italy, I advised her on what was possible here and that her time for using "her own eggs" was growing short. I hope that she will find it possible to have the child she wishes for in 2011.

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.

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