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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is Egg Donation the Right Choice for You?

by David Tourgeman, M.D., HRC Fertility, February 24, 2011
Perhaps the most difficult and emotional decision a person or couple can make when trying to have a child is choosing whether or not egg donation is the correct route for them. For some people, the decision may be relatively straightforward. Perhaps the adoption process has been met with failure, or the woman has premature ovarian failure or another medical conditions in which the ovaries will not produce eggs.

But in most cases, the parents have attempted artificial inseminations (IUIs) and/or in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures without success, and have been burdened with the bad news of negative pregnancy tests. The decision to move forward with an egg donor was not how they had envisioned becoming parents.

The Issues of Egg Donation
The biggest issue intended parent considering egg donation must confront is deciding if their genetics must play a part or if having a baby (despite the maternal genetic origin) is most important.

Indeed, there have been attempts at using a donor egg for the shell and transferring the genetic material of the intended mother into the donor egg. Unfortunately, this has not been scientifically successful so we are left with the preceding dilemma.

Known Egg Donors
An option that may be considered is a non-anonymous (known) egg donor. Typically, a sibling or relative is chosen, and ideally that family member is less than 35 years of age and has children of her own. This provides a “bridge” in which there is some genetic input, although it is somewhat removed.

There are many patients who choose not to have a known donor because they do not feel comfortable asking, do not have an age-appropriate relative, or simply do not want anyone to know. In this case, we are left with an anonymous (unknown) egg donor.

Anonymous Egg Donors
Choosing an anonymous egg donor is indeed a challenge. There are certainly many things that parents may want to address. Physical attributes and similarities are often paramount. However, intelligence, nationality, and family health issues are also significant.

From a medical standpoint there are also many desired qualities to optimize the likelihood of success. I typically recommend that the donor be less than 30 years old and that she have had testing for ovarian reserve that returned normal. She should have had all appropriate genetic screening tests and have been evaluated by a mental health professional to make sure that there are no ulterior motives. When counseling a couple, I will tell them that in the best scenario an anonymous donor is “proven,” meaning that she has done a cycle of egg donation in the past, produced 15 eggs or more, and the donation resulted in successful pregnancy.

Being Fulfilled as Parents
The most important thing for the person or couple to consider is whether they will be fulfilled as parents when they decide to use a donor egg. The parents will be able to nurture and nourish the baby the way that had been envisioned. There is also an extraordinary bonding that occurs as the mother feels the growing baby.

The pregnancy experience and birthing process is the beginning of parents understanding that, despite the genetic contribution from the egg donor, this baby is their own.

David Tourgeman, M.D. graduated medical school from the University of Southern California in 1994. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1998 and his fellowship in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in 2001 at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles County Women’s and Children’s Hospital. After his fellowship, Dr. Tourgeman became an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in USC's Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He began working with HRC Fertility (then Huntington Reproductive Center) in 2005 and currently sees patients in HRC’s Encino and West Los Angeles offices. His areas of interest and studies include assisted reproductive technologies and oocyte donation in women of advanced reproductive age, alternatives for enhancing embryo implantation, advanced reproductive fertility surgery, evaluation of ovulation induction agents, and vaginal hormone administration.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Surrogacy Shopping After 40

This article was originally featured at Flower Power Mom's site and it was so good I had to re-run it here.  And a little about "Flower Power Mom" Angel La Liberte.  

Against the odds and well into her forties, Angel La Liberte, conceived and gave birth to two healthy children (in 2002 and 2005) without the aid of medical fertility treatments.  Unwittingly, she was soon drawn into the rising international cause célèbre in the baby-making stakes—the fast-growing population of ‘mid-life moms’.

While Angel herself isn't a mom via egg donation, she sure celebrates, empowers and supports every woman regardless of age but especially 40 and beyond when it comes to motherhood!  Which is why PVED LOVES HER!

Angel launched a national awareness campaign—Celebrating Motherhood After 40—to help relieve stigma faced by “older” mothers.

The campaign message was widely featured in US media—Angel participated in a live national debate on CNN, interviewed on radio programs, including WINS 1010 in NYC, and was quoted key newspapers such as the Minnesota Times and Baltimore Sun.

She now writes a monthly column for Bay Area Parent—part of the www.parenthood.com organization—on parenting after 40.

This article features PVED board advisor Sharon LaMothe, who works tirelessly in the field of Third Party Reproduction  with more than a decade working in the infertility community, and serving as an advisor to organizations like Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) and OBGYN.net Women’s Health Forum.

Motherhood through surrogacy is not ‘all smoke and mirrors’—an impression that sensational media coverage of celebrity diva-moms like Nicole Kidman or Sarah Jessica Parker might convey.

According to WA state surrogacy consultant, Sharon LaMothe—a gestational carrier twice over who gave birth a second time at 41—“surrogacy is not out of reach” for the average gal next door.

But, for women over 40, there may be an added ‘caveat emptor’ when choosing a fertility clinic.
LaMothe—with more than a decade working in the infertility community, and serving as an advisor to organizations like Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) and OBGYN.net Women’s Health Forum—says “a lot can go wrong” with surrogacy agreements.

Women thinking about becoming a parent through a surrogate should “ask a lot of questions” and not “run into it blindly.”

“The old adage ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ is very true in the case of surrogacy arrangements,” says LaMothe, who says the majority of her female clients are over 40.

First, ‘commercial surrogacy’ is not legal in many states across the USA (including Washington) and the “intended parent” must have a medical reason for using a surrogate in states where it is.

“Age can be a big factor, but so is cancer, hysterectomy, and diseases like diabetes, and single women or same-sex couples.”

LaMothe, whose work involves educating and assisting intended parents and their surrogates, knows the “do’s and don’ts” on their path to parenthood.

While “the list is a mile long,” there are some key issues not to play around with.

“Do not download sample surrogacy contracts from the internet,” she warns.

LaMothe urges that both the intended parent and the surrogate are better off hiring an attorney experienced in reproductive law.

“Make sure that all parties attend at least one session with a mental health service provider who is experienced in surrogacy evaluations,” she continues.

And to avoid the risk of things getting ugly over money, “use an escrow account for disbursements.”

When shopping for a fertility clinic, LaMothe advises her clients to look carefully at the clinic’s “take home baby” statistics, compared to their rate of successful pregnancies.

While conceiving is great; a failed pregnancy is a disappointment to everyone.

And this is where fertility clinic selection can get sticky for a woman of 40 or over—as in a recent FPM blog article—who wishes to conceive with her own eggs.

“Once you hit that magic 4-Oh, your eggs are not as viable as those of a younger woman,” says LaMothe.
“Some fertility clinics may discourage women over 40 from using their own eggs because they are concerned about their ‘take-home baby’ statistics,” she admits.

In these cases, says LaMothe, a woman of 40+ may have her “opportunity to .choose” her own eggs “taken away.”

There are other clinics who are more inclined to work women over 40 and it’s important to find a provider who is a good fit.

Once the surrogate is chosen, the pregnancy and birth can only take place in a state that allows surrogacy arrangements.
“Once the surrogate mother has passed stringent exams including a mental health evaluation,” says LaMothe, “she and the intended parents sign a legal agreement.”

The fertility clinic then places the surrogate and the intended mother or egg donor on a schedule that includes medicals, blood tests and ultrasounds.

The embryo transfer to the surrogate usually takes place about 3 to 5 days after the egg retrieval.
Two weeks after the transfer, the surrogate will have her blood drawn to see if she’s pregnant. Most contracts allow for up to 3 IVF attempts.

If an ultrasound taken 4-6 weeks after embryo transfer shows a baby’s heartbeat, the pregnancy is “confirmed.”

Approximately 10-12 weeks after the transfer, the surrogate mother is then released to the care of her OBGYN or midwife.

Of course, there are the common concerns of the expectant mother developing an attachment to the unborn baby.

LaMothe, who was a gestational carrier (meaning no biological relation to the child) twice says that she “did not have the same feelings” she had while carrying her own two children.

“Women who want to be surrogates,” she continues, “already have a family of their own.”

“There is compensation involved, but giving the gift of life via surrogacy is a very personal and life-changing experience.”

“Not everyone can be a surrogate,” she adds.

Given the virtual obstacle course of decision making, LaMothe’s advice is practical.

“Deciphering all of the surrogacy programs, laws and relationship concerns can be overwhelming.”

“Do your homework and, if you become overwhelmed, hire a consultant who can take away the stress of figuring out how the whole thing works.”

Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
Sharon LaMothe’s websites, blogs and services:
Infertility Answers, Inc.
LaMothe Services, LLC
LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting
Sharon LaMothe’s 3 blogs:
The Business of A.R.T.
Surrogacy 101~Learn more about Third Party Family Building

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Come On Georgia -- Don't Set The Women's Movement Back 100 Years!

Okay so there isn’t many times that I am left with my mouth agape and at a loss for words but today I am.  The abortion debate is always animated and emotionally charged.  However, this week it took a turn down Crazy Street when  Georgia Representative Bobby Franklin (R) introduced a bill into the state legislature that would find miscarriage a criminal act, and a state mandate to investigate, track, and follow all pregnancies.

Do you remember last year when this same representative proposed to make rape and domestic violence victims into accusers? I thought this was nuts however, this year he’s upped the ante and  has introduced into legislature a bill HB1: Prenatal Murder which makes it a crime for a woman’s body to end a pregnancy regardless of how it’s ended.  And furthermore if you suffer a miscarriage (Which I have-- nine (9) times) and they can’t prove it was truly a miscarriage, (which is what happens many times over in early early pregnancy) then the woman can be criminally charged.

This bill has truly catapulted into the upper atmosphere of the mysoginisim--women-hating--merry-go-round. 

In examining this bill further, this bill goes on to say that anytime a miscarriage happens, (doesn’t matter where you are:  in a hospital, or if you are with medical personnel) the patient is required to report this, a death certificate must be issued, and again if the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated.  In short this bill will criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia illegal under any circumstance.  What’s even scarier  is that both miscarriages and abortions could be potentially punishable by death.  The bill deems all of this “prenatal murder” which includes “human involvement”, and would be a felony and carry the penalty of life in prison or death.

Come on, really?

Can you imagine miscarrying, the doctor at a loss as to why you miscarried.  The miscarriage determined “unknown” and the police then have the right to question your friends, your family, co-workers, and neighbors to determine how it happened.

Hello?  Representative Franklin, (who is not a medical professional) did you know that 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage?  That’s one in four pregnancies. Again, not to sound like a broken record but I myself have experienced nine (9) miscarriages – and the grief process is brutal!  I blamed myself for each and every one.  Did I exercise too much?  Did I not stop drinking coffee soon enough?  Did I not eat right? Did I get over heated?  Was this because I smoked as a young lady?  I had sex!  Did that dislodge something? Was I too stressed out? Did that glass of wine before I knew I conceived cause the problem?  Was it karma?  I mean, I blamed myself for years about my miscarriages, all nine of them.  So would this mean that the government or the police should open a criminal investigation because my body decided it couldn’t carry a pregnancy?

Under this bill HB1, as it states a woman who suffers a miscarriage could indeed become a felon if she can’t prove there was “no human involvement whatsoever” in the cause of the miscarriage.  The scariest part of the language in this proposed bill is that there isn’t any sort of clarification whatsoever of what the term “human involvement” means.  

Our physicians don’t always know what causes a woman to miscarry.  It could be any number of things that we as women have no control over.  Again one in four suffers a miscarriage – and that number is probably much higher because many miscarriages occur often very early in pregnancy.  For instance, chemical pregnancies or blighted ovum’s can cause miscarriages even before a woman really knows she’s pregnant.  And at the end of the day most all miscarriages are Mother Nature’s way of weeding out the fetuses that aren’t developing normally.  It’s our body doing what it’s supposed to do.  And this Georgia State Representative wants to penalize women for this?  Are you kidding me?  This is 2011, not the dark ages.  – I think.

Besides this bill being poorly written is cruel and unusual to hold a woman criminally liable for a completely natural biological process that again she has no control over.  I mean for crying out loud this bill is holding women responsible for protecting her pregnancy from the moment she conceives.  If we are to look at this logically we would how flawed the language in this bill is because we all know that pregnancy tests aren’t always 100% accurate until at least 3-4 weeks after conception.  

My hope is that this crazy bill that makes an already legal procedure illegal doesn’t pass.  What is even more bothersome is that this bill shows a huge lack of concern for the welfare and well-being for women’s health. ” Unless Franklin (who is not a health professional) invents a revolutionary intrauterine conception alarm system, it's unclear how exactly the state of Georgia would enforce that rule other than holding all possibly-pregnant women under lock and key.”

I like Jen Phillips have seen my share of anti-woman bills this year that threaten your reproductive rights and mine but this one – man this one’s over the top.  What I don’t understand is how this bill can make the logical argument that Georgia is exempt from upholding the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Roe v. Wade.
The whole bill is convoluted and dizzying at best.

My hope the bill won’t pass.  If you live in Georgia please send Representative Robby Franklin your thoughts about this ludicrous bill.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For Our New York Intended Parents!

Direct from the RESOLVE Website:

NY: NYC Egg Donor Seminar
New York, New York

Attorneys and Contracts in Egg and Embryo Donation: What You Need to Know

Featuring Reproductive Law Attorneys Amy Demma, Esq. and Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 from 6:00PM to 8:00PMLocation: Bis.Co.Latte Cafe, 667 10th Avenue (Corner of 47th and 10th Avenue), New York, NY

Are you considering or already pursuing egg or embryo donation as a family building option? Are you curious about the benefits of a direct contract with your donor, even if the donor is anonymous? RESOLVE presents an evening of private discussion and lite fare with two reproductive law attorneys and experts, Amy Demma and Elizabeth Swire Falker, as they talk about the importance of donor contracts in a casual and warm cafe environment.

Biscotti, coffee, fruit, cheese and sparkling water will be served. Bis.Co.Latte Cafe was recently featured on NYU's Doctor Radio for its healthy menu.

This is a free event. Maximum registration is for 20 people only.
For more information, please contact Amy Demma, Esq, Law Offices of Amy Demma at amy@lawofficesofamydemma.com or http://www.lawofficesofamydemma.com/ or Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq, PC, The Stork Lawyer® at liz@storklawyer.com or http://www.storklawyer.com/.

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