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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: Dear Senator Hudgens:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dear Senator Hudgens:



I am writing to you as an infertility patient, a mother via egg donation, and a woman who loves God with all her heart. My hope is that you will take time to read my letter and think about the harm this bill in particular is going to cause. I understand the worry, concern, outrage, and anger surrounding the Nadya Suleman case. The acts that Nadya Suleman and her doctor took were not only selfish and irresponsible, they were dangerous to both the patient, the eight children she birthed, and the fourteen children she now has to raise.


What I want to encourage you to see is that Nadya is *not* the normal IVF patient. Nadya is sadly a woman with severe emotional issues who with the help of her irresponsible physician made some very poor choices. I also think that her doctor is the exception and does not represent what is happening or the goals of all the other amazing physicians who treat patients in the field of infertility who recognize implanting six embryos in a young woman who has already borne children goes against standards set by the two main U.S. fertility medicine groups.


The majority of women undergoing infertility treatments are not emotionally unbalanced, wanting families of fourteen knowing they cannot care for them. They desire normal sized families, and should have the right to have children like everyone else in the world who isn’t challenge with fertility issues. In this particular case there were several things that happened that shouldn’t have happened – that should have raised flags. One of the first things that all fertility patients undergo is a psychological evaluation – we meet with a therapist who talks about our treatment, if we have any children already in the family, how we are going to care for future children, how many embryos we will transfer back into the uterus, how we feel about carrying multiples (twins or triplets), what our thoughts and views are about selective reduction, and finally what we are doing with any leftover embryos. That’s how it’s suppose to happen. My guess is that Nadya Suleman did not undergo any sort of psychological screening.


While I understand your knee jerk reaction, I really do. I think that deep down you mean well and want to avoid what happened in California. However, you cannot penalize the good people of Georgia because of the action of one person in California.


My hope is that with this letter is to possibly educate you a little bit more about the IVF process so you can understand the limits you propose, and see that they do not make any sense whatsoever.


In looking at section 19-7-66 you state that only creating the amount of embryos equal to the amount to be transferred. This doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, there are several things about this specific piece of legislation that are not only difficult to steer through, they really do not speak to the interest of reducing the risk of complications for both the mother and the transferred in vitro human embryos, including the risk of preterm birth associated with high-order multiples.” Why? Because this item in particular talks about creating embryos before they are even placed back or transferred. The mother doesn’t experience risk before transfer, only after transfer, and certainly not during creation.


Do you even know what takes place during a typical IVF cycle? It might help you understand more why this bill is so greatly inappropriate.


In typical IVF cycle, when the woman goes through what we call the “stimulation phase” of IVF, she takes injectable drugs called “Human Menopausal Gonadotropins”. These drugs are not only expensive, they cause the woman’s body to produce more eggs that she normally would in a regular menstrual cycle. I myself suffer from “Diminished Ovarian Reserve” and “Premature Ovarian Failure” -- and for me every egg that I have ever been able to produce are absolutely prized and dear to me because they were the only chance I had at attempting to create viable healthy embryos in order to try to become a mother. For someone like myself who has this diagnosis, to go through a stimulation process and be told that they are not allowed by law to freeze eggs or embryos for another chance at a pregnancy is insane. These are my eggs and my embryos.

And furthermore, if you are like me – and have egg quality issues, and have had to move on and resort to an egg donor, and are spending upwards of $25,000.00 for a single egg donor cycle you are of course going to want to create more than three embryos for that cycle. You are going to want to create more, so you can freeze more, so you can have another shot if your present cycle doesn’t work, or hopefully have left over embryos to freeze so you may had to your family at a later time.

Do you really know what happens during the fertilization process? Even in the best clinics, with the best eggs, and the healthiest of sperm there isn’t 100% fertilization. Many times, half of what you start with is what you end up with. Let’s say at an egg collection 20 eggs are collected, and 15 of those eggs are mature and healthy. They are then mixed with sperm and 24 hours later they are looked at. Upon viewing the embryologist see’s that 10 have fertilized, and they are put back to into the incubator to grow. On day three they are checked again, and the embryos have now through nature been reduced to six as the other four stopped growing. Because most clinics perform blastocyst transfers which are known as day five transfers there is the risk that more will die – and they often do. So when day five comes, often times there’s three or four blastocyst. Two are transferred back, and two are frozen. And then you hope for the best.

As you can see, if your bill passes you are not limiting the embryos transferred, but rather it limits the number of embryos that are created. No matter how many eggs are produced, you can only fertilize the number you plan to transfer during this cycle. Does this make sense? No I think not. And if you go back and study basic biology you will learn that it’s truly a crap shoot to know which eggs will fertilize and which embryos are going to grow, which is WHY we as patients and our doctors need to have the ability to fertilize more eggs and create more embryos for a successful IVF cycle. Passing this bill in Georgia is going to take away the ability to do this. A patient and their doctor are going to have to pick just one or two eggs. So you tell me Senator who’s going to want to come to the fine state of Georgia and pay for this kind of IVF treatment that isn’t covered by most insurances?

No one that’s who – and all your IVF patients are going to be traveling to other states and spending their dollars in other states where they could be keeping them right in Georgia.

I also don’t understand the need to regulate or legislate the freezing of leftover embryos. Do you realize that 98+% of the clinics in the United States already impose limits on the number of embryos transferred back into a woman’s uterus? Why are you wanting to limit what we freeze? What I see, is that we again, are suffering for the poor choice of one woman who’s mentally unbalanced and her irresponsible doctor. That’s not something I want to pay or lose the opportunity of becoming a mother over.

If you are going to regulate or legislate anything it would be requiring physicians in your state to create a consent form of some sort. When I underwent my IVF cycle my husband and I signed a consent form stating that we were only placing back three day three embryos, as I was over thirty-five. Our clinic was very clear and concise about what they would allow and what they wouldn’t allow. Perhaps a form like this required by all clinics in your state would make doctors accountable and could be enforced with fines or legal action. This would allow for those practices who do not comply to be closed down. But I think if you do your homework you will find that all of your clinics and practices in Georgia who perform IVF procedures already follow those guidelines.

What I am trying to say to you is that as a patient I already felt like I was playing God, I struggled every single day of my life as I grappled with my infertility treatment. I also feel strongly that if God didn’t want me to use this technology it wouldn’t be available for us to use – do we need to be responsible with this technology? You bet we do. We need to be respectful and we need to treat it with great reverence. Which the majority of clinics and it’s physicians already do. But really do we need to regulate and legislate this to the point that it takes away the feasible options and choices for patients like me and the other six million infertile women in the United States who struggle day in and day out with infertility?

Absolutely not.

Please re-evaluate this bill and your actions. This bill as it stands is going to crush and decimate the infertility industry, it’s going to destroy any hope for millions of women like myself who dream about become a mother and creating a family.

The bottom line -- Patients have a right to make decisions about their bodies and their embryos, and I don’t want the government being my doctor. We respectfully ask you to stay out of our uteruses.

Sincerely Yours,

Marna D. Gatlin

Parents Via Egg Donation

www.pved.org

503.987.1433

2 Comments:

Anonymous Rachel Gurevich said...

Excellent letter!! I hope he will read and consider carefully.

March 5, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger mperloe said...

While we initially thought that GA SB169 and SB204 were tabled, they will both come up again Monday morning. Unfortunately, they schedule at the last minute and do not provide a copy of the latest version of the bill to allow for meaning comment.

Please keep those letters coming to let the GA Senate know that limiting couples family building options does not serve the public's interest.

March 8, 2009 at 5:50 PM  

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