Successful In Vitro Couple Offers To Donate Extra Embryos

THURSDAY, DEC. 25, 1997

Medical science helped Donna and Ron to have a baby through in vitro fertilization, after 15 maddening years failing to get pregnant.

Now, they want to do the same for another childless couple, by offering to donate their six fertilized, frozen embryos sitting unused in storage at a Broward County, Fla., fertility clinic.

“This is our gift at Christmas time,” Ron, a production manager of 43, said at a news conference Wednesday. “We just want to give someone else the chance to experience being parents, as we did.”

The couple, from a suburb west of Fort Lauderdale, asked that their last name and personal details be withheld to avoid attention from people who oppose their decision.

The six embryos - fertilized eggs ready for implanting in a mother’s uterus - were left over when Donna was impregnated with their son, Ronnie, now 7-1/2.

The delivery in 1990 was so rough that doctors told her she should never have another child.

Seven years later, in February, the clinic wrote to the couple urging that the embryos be discarded or used for research. Donna and Ron, who are devout Christians, refused.

Donna, a 41-year-old homemaker, said she called dozens of doctors and adoption lawyers looking for someone who wanted the embryos. No takers. They decided to give them away.

“I just want to find a good home for my kids,” Donna said. “I would have loved to have used them, but I couldn’t.

“Some people tell me they’re just cells, like fingernail clippings or hair, throw them away. But they are my kids. I don’t think God gave me these lives to let them melt. What do you do, put them on the window sill and let them thaw?”

Their attorney, Charlotte Danciu of Boca Raton, Fla., will screen applicants and help choose the recipients. The only criteria is that the chosen couple raise the baby as a Christian, Donna said.

There will be many, many takers, said doctors and Nora Rupert, former president of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., chapter of Resolve, a group for infertile couples.

“People will be happy to get them,” said Rupert, who could not get pregnant and adopted a child this year. “I have friends who are so desperate they will try anything.”

It’s not uncommon for the frozen embryo of one couple to be given to another, but it is almost always done anonymously through the fertility clinic.

The embryos would not interest couples with a healthy egg or sperm of their own that could be used in an implant.

But in about 40 percent of couples, both man and woman have a problem that prevents conception. Those couples might want to implant someone else’s embryos in the woman so she could deliver the child, said Dr. Minna Selub, a fertility specialist at the University of Miami.

Legally, the embryo donation is a gift and not an adoption, attorney Danciu said. Even so, Donna and Ron have signed papers waiving all claims to any child from their embryos.

“I would never haunt you for the rest of my life,” Donna said. “I’m calm, and I’m OK.”


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