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Embryo Adoption Awareness & Education

Gayle Oboy

This is probably one aspect of adoption that you have heard little or nothing about. Embryo adoption is a unique adoption that creates families by allowing infertile couples to adopt pre-born babies (embryos frozen from invetro fertilization). Currently there are over 500,000 embryos cryopreserved in fertility clinics across the United States. This adoption not only blesses many families by fulfilling their lifelong dream of being parents, but they are also blessed to experience pregnancy and give birth to their child.

For more information visit
Do No Harm – Stem Cell Research (The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics)

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Organizations supporting embryonic stem cell research

Source: Stem Cell Research Cures

The following is a list of organizations that have expressed support for human embryonic stem cell research. Research with embryonic stem cells necessitates the destruction of human embryos.

Information on the organizations’ support for embryonic stem cell research comes from three sources: policy statements, membership in coalitions that lobby for the research and signatures on letters expressing public support for the research. Some organizations listed also contribute funding for embryonic stem cell research. The list is alphabetized and well known organizations, universities and medical schools are in bold:

Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists
Alliance for Aging Research
Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support and Education
Alpha-1 Foundation
ALS Association
Alzheimer’s Association
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
American Academy of Optometry
American Association for Cancer Research
American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy
American Association for Dental Research
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Study of Liver Disease
American Association of Anatomists
American Association of Dental Schools
American Association of Immunologists
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
American Brain Tumor Association
American Burn Association
American Cancer Society
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American College of Cardiology
American College of Clinical Pharmacology
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Physicians
American Council on Science and Health
American Diabetes Association
American Federation for Aging Research
American Federation for Medical Research
American Foundation for AIDS Research
American Gastroenterological Association
American Heart Association
American Infertility Association
American Liver Foundation
American Lung Association
American Medical Association
American Neurological Association
American Parkinson’s Disease Association
American Pediatric Society
American Pediatric Surgical Association
American Psychiatric Assocation
American Physiological Society
Americans for Medical Progress
America’s Blood Centers
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
American Society for Cell Biology
American Society for Clinical Nutrition
American Society for Investigative Pathology
American Society for Microbiology
American Society for Neural Transplantation and Repair
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
American Society for Virology
American Society of Clinical Oncology
American Society of Hematology
American Society of Human Genetics
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
American Thoracic Society
American Thyroid Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
APBD Research Foundation
Appalachian State University
Arthritis Foundation
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Association of Academic Health Centers
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
Association of Chairmen of Departments of Physiology
Association of Independent Research Institutes
Association of Medical and Graduate Departments of Biochemistry
Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs
Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs
Association of Medical School Psychologists
Association of Professors of Dermatology
Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics
Association of Professors of Medicine
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Association of Subspecialty Professors
Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine
Association of University Radiologists
Axion Research Foundation
Bay Area Bioscience Center
Baylor College of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Biotechnology Industry Organization
B’nai B’rith International
Brain Tumor Action Newtork
Brain Tumor Society
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
California Institute of Technology
Californians for Cures
Cancer Care
Cancer Leadership Council
Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation
Cancer Research Foundation of America
Cancer Treatment Research Foundation
Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
Cedars-Sinai Health System
Children’s Hospital Boston
Children’s Neurobiological Solutions Foundation
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Citizens for Public Action on High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
The Civil Society Institute
Coalition for American Trauma Care
Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research
Coaltion of Advocates for Research on the Eye
Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups
College on Problems of Drug Dependence
Colon Cancer Alliance
Colorectal Cancer Network
Columbia University
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Cooley’s Anemia Foundation
Cornell University
Coriell Institute for Medical Research
Council of the Radiation Research Society
Council of Scientific Society Presidents
Cure for Lymphoma Foundation
Cure Paralysis Now
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
The Daniel Heumann Fund
Dartmouth Medical School
The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation
Duke University Medical Center
East Carolina University
Easter Seals

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Emory University
Endocrine Society
Eye Bank of America
FD Hope Foundation
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
The Forsyth Institute
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Genetic Alliance
Genetics Policy Institute
Genetics Society of America
Genome Action Coalition
The Gerontological Society of America
Glaucoma Research Foundation
Harvard University

Health, Safety and Research Alliance of New York State, Inc.
Hereditary Disease Foundation
Hope for ALS
The Implementation Group, Inc.
International Foundation for Anticancer Drug Discovery
International Longevity Center
International Myeloma Foundation
International Rett Syndrome Research Foundation
International Society for Stem Cell Research
Interstitial Cystitis Association
Jacob’s Cure
Jeffrey Modell Foundation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Johns Hopkins University
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
The Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies
Kidney Cancer Association
Lance Armstrong Foundation
Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Lupus Foundation of America
Lymphoma Research Society of America
Lymphatic Research Foundation
Magee-Womens Research Institute/Pittsburgh Development Center
March of Dimes
Massachusetts Biotechnology Council
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Medical College of Wisconsin
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Methuselah Foundation
Michael J. Fox Foundation

MI Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures
The Mount Sinai Medical Center
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Muscular Dystrophy Association
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America
Myositis Association of America
NAPE, Inc.
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
National Alopecia Areatea Foundation
National Association for Biomedical Research
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
National Brain Tumor Foundation
National Caucus of Basic Biomedical Science Chairs
National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families
National Childhood Cancer Foundation
National Coalition for Cancer Research
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
National Council on Spinal Cord Injury
National Eczema Association for Science and Education
National Health Council
National Mental Health Association
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Organization for Rare Disorders
National Osteoporosis Foundation
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Patient Advocate Foundation
National Pemphigus Foundation
National Psoriasis Foundation
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
National Venture Capital Association
National Vitiligo Foundation
Neurofibromatosis, Inc.
New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research
New York Stem Cell Foundation
New York University School of Medicine
North American Brain Tumor Association
North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research
Northwest Association for Biomedical Research
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Oncology Nursing Society
Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy
Parkinson’s Action Network
Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
Patient’s Cure
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Prevent Cancer Foundation
Project A.L.S.
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Protein Society
PXE International
Quest for the Cure
Research & Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Research Society on Alcoholism
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Rutgers University
San Gorgonio Corporation
Sarcoma Foundation of America
Scleroderma Foundation/Scleroderma Research Foundation
Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
Society for Investigative Dermatology
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Pediatric Research
Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Society for the Advancement of Women’s Health Research
Society for Women’s Health Research
Society of Critical Care Medicine
Stand Among Friends
Stanford University
Stem Cell Action Network
Stem Cell Research Foundation
Stem Cell Partnering Series
Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation
Stony Brook University
Student Society for Stem Cell Research
Sturge-Weber Foundation
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Susan G. Komen Foundation
Take Charge! Cure Parkinson’s Inc.
Texans for the Advancement of Medical Research
Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation
Tourette Syndrome Association
Travis Roy Foundation
Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
Tulane University
Unite 2 Fight Paralysis
United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation
United Spinal Foundation
University of California
University of Chicago
University of Colorado
University of Florida Health Science Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Nebraska Medical Center
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Utah
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-Madison

UPMC Health System
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Washington University in St. Louis
WiCell Research Institution
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Wisconsin Association for Biomedical Research & Education
Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society
Yale University

Embryo donation a new way to choose life
by Mary Faulds

In early March 2009, President Barack Obama lifted the strict limitations on embryonic stem cell research that the Bush administration had imposed. The federal government then officially began funding new human embryonic stem cell research in December, when the National Institutes of Health declared that 13 human stem cell lines met NIH ethics guidelines released in July.

One of those guidelines is that those stem cell lines must come from excess embryos at in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics to be eligible for use in federal research. The genetic parents must give signed consent and be informed that the embryos would be used for research.

It is estimated that 500,000 human embryos are currently in cryopreservation in the United States. When a couple who used in vitro fertilization decides that their family is complete and embryos are still available, they are faced with a dilemma. What should be done with those remaining embryos?

In years past, the only well-known options were donation to research, or thawing them and letting them die. However, for those parents who truly see the embryos as siblings to their children, those are unsavory choices. A third alternative would be to keep the embryos frozen indefinitely, but that can become a costly endeavor, and embryos cannot survive frozen forever.

There is a fourth option, a life-affirming one, which is gaining ground. A couple can now donate their remaining embryos to an infertile couple who cannot conceive their own embryos.

The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the lives and dignity of human embryos by education and by promoting and facilitating embryo donation and adoption. The Center is located in Knoxville, Tennessee, and is led by medical director and fertility specialist Jeffrey A. Keenan, M.D.

An embryo donation center was originally the idea of Dr. David Stevens, chief executive officer of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA).

“Dave Stevens realized that there were a lot of embryos without a home and were in a liquid nitrogen limbo,” said Keenan. “I had done some of this in my practice and decided it was a feasible idea. It took a couple, three years to put all the pieces together.”

The NEDC was formed through a collaborative effort between Keenan’s practice at Southeastern Fertility Center, the CMDA, Bethany Christian Services (an adoption agency) and Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee.

Federal grants in 2003 helped put the final pieces into place. Keenan said they were busy right from the start and continue to grow, partially through grants specifically for education and promotion of embryo adoption.

“We have been measuring response on the topic,” Kennan said, “and I think we are just approaching a critical mass where people out on the street are starting to hear about the NEDC. It is really starting to take off. It is almost to the point where it is mainstream.”

Keenan explained that the donation process is a fairly simple one. “You will be asked to fill out an application, provide some medical and genetic history, and have some minimal testing,” he said. “During the process, you may even decide which family will be privileged to adopt your embryos. You may also decide what degree of contact, if any, you wish to have with the adopting family. During this same time period, you will be instructed to contact and inform the clinic where your frozen embryos are stored that you are donating your embryos to another infertile couple through the NEDC.”

Saving a life
Often the word “adoption” is used to describe the embryo donation, but Keenan said it isn’t entirely accurate. “Based on current law, adoption only refers to the placement of a child after birth,” he explained. “Therefore, instead of using adoption laws, legal agreements are used to govern the process of embryo adoption. But the relationship with the child is just as binding as an adoption. In addition, with embryo adoption, the adopting parents will be the parents cited on the birth certificate.”

The donating parents incur no cost throughout the process, and they are also not paid. The adopting parents must go through a screening for infectious diseases, general and reproductive health, and their ability to successfully parent children. The NEDC works with Bethany Christian Services to ensure appropriate screening and to assist the donating parents as they choose an adopting couple.

Keenan said sometimes couples have a hard time deciding to donate their embryos because of the emotional attachment, even though they are sure they will not be using them. He said he counsels those couples that not making a decision is much the same as making a decision to destroy the embryos.

“Frozen embryos have a limited life span in storage. They will eventually die. Although you may be struggling with the idea of donating your embryos to another couple, your decision to help others have children is the most caring and compassionate option to choose.”

Wonderful option
It was a compassionate couple who donated to Marti and Brian Bailey of Knoxville, Tennessee. The college sweethearts wed because of a mutual desire for a large family. In 2001, they began trying for that basketball team Brian wanted. They were excited to hear after a few months that Marti might be pregnant. However, an ultrasound revealed an empty uterus.Problems weren’t entirely unexpected. Marti had been born prematurely and had to have a large section of her small intestine removed after birth. The scan also showed that there was a lot of scar tissue in Marti’s fallopian tubes, so ectopic pregnancy was a danger. Marti had to have both tubes removed surgically in 2002, rendering her unable to conceive naturally. However, Dr. Keenan, who was her surgeon, said IVF should work for them.According to the CDC, an average of about 31% of frozen embryos successfully implant after transfer. This statistic is from a collection of data from all reporting assisted reproductive technology clinics nationwide. The NEDC’s overall pregnancy rate per transfer is 48%.For the next several years, it was a cycle of shots, harvesting eggs and transfers of embryos into Marti. Each time was a disappointing loss. Soon the couple began looking into traditional adoption. However, it was during that time that Marti began working for the NEDC as a public relations manager.“I went around and educated people about embryo donation and adoption all across the United States,” she said. “I was feeling more and more led that this is what God wanted us to do. This is what I wanted to do, I was going around speaking about it, I felt really convinced that this was a wonderful option.”Brian wasn’t entirely convinced, but after speaking with Dr. Keenan, he supported Marti and took the leap of faith to adopt embryos. And a big leap it was.
“We had already made a commitment with Bethany Christian Services that we were going to adopt,” said Marti. “At the time, it’s not this way now, but at the time you could not be on the traditional adoption list and go through with embryo adoption, so when we went with Dr. Keenan, they pulled us from the list.”It was May 2007 when Marti got her transfer of donated embryos. She was so excited that, against the center’s recommendations, she took a home pregnancy test. It was positive. A few days later it was confirmed by a blood test. But heartache struck again. Marti lost the baby in June.

The Baileys questioned whether embryo donation was the way to go to build their family, but it was a phone call in August that changed everything. Carol Sommerfelt, the embryologist at the NEDC, called on Marti’s birthday.

“She said, ‘I have the best birthday present for you,’” said Marti. “’We just got in 25 embryos.’ She knew we wanted a large family. You can’t always get that with embryo donation. Usually it’s not that many. A donation of 25 embryos was unheard of.”

Marti said it was still a hard decision to go ahead with the transfer, but at the last minute they signed the papers and took custody of the embryos. This time the pregnancy took and their excitement was doubled when they discovered twins were on the way.

The excitement didn’t stop there. Marti endured severe back pain, a weak cervix that had to be stitched closed to keep the babies inside, and toxemia before Julian Keene and Natalie Faith were born April 4, 2008, at 30 weeks gestation.

Marti had to recover from the emergency caesarean section and a nicked bladder, but it was six weeks before the babies came home. It was after the twins’ birth that the Baileys contacted the donating family, who had desired an open adoption.

Marti said that she cannot carry any more children after her difficult pregnancy, and the remaining embryos will once again be up for adoption. Regardless of the difficulty, Marti said embryo adoption is a wonderful blessing.

“I would beg any couple that may be considering donating their embryos to research to give them a chance at life. Even if you are not religious, think about the work it took to get those embryos, and think about those couples desperate for a child. It gives everyone a chance to have a family.”

“Copyright 2007 American Family News Network – Used by permission.”

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