A mother-of-two has offered to donate her four remaining frozen embryos to some of the women that lost theirs in the fertility clinic blunders in Ohio and California.
Niki Schaefer, 37, has an eight-year-old son, Noah, from IVF and a six-year-old daughter, Lane, conceived from a frozen embryo using IVF.
After her second delivery, Niki and her husband Brian decided they were happy with their family-of-four, and have been trying to decide what to do with their remaining four embryos, sat frozen in storage, ever since.
That changed on Saturday, after news broke that hundreds of families had lost their frozen embryos in a storage malfunction at UH Fertility Center in Cleveland, Ohio – and days later a similar blunder happened at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco.
In a post that has since swept the internet, Niki, who lives 20 miles away from Cleveland in Chagrin Falls, took to Facebook offering to connect affected families with her doctor to facilitate a donation – and urged other women like her to do the same.
Niki Schaefer, 37, from suburban Cleveland, Ohio, has an eight-year-old son, Noah, from IVF and a six-year-old daughter, Lane, conceived from a frozen embryo using IVF
The couple weren’t sure they wanted to donate their embryos until hearing the blunder news
On Saturday Niki took to Facebook (pictured) offering to connect affected families with her doctor to facilitate a donation – and urged other women like her to do the same
‘I have 4 more frozen embryos that I’ve never been quite sure what to do with,’ she wrote.
‘I thought I would eventually donate them to research because I couldn’t mentally handle the thought of Noah and Lane’s formerly frozen siblings being on this earth and not knowing them.
‘The unfortunate events that compromised the frozen embryos at the UH Fertility Center changed my mind.’
HOW DOES EGG FREEZING WORK?
Women inject high levels of hormones for a week in order to ovulate as many eggs as possible. Patients typically have to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for these.
This hormone is called AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone), which is secreted in the ovarian follicles.
AMH levels are a marker of one’s fertility: women with a high level are likely to produce more eggs.
The patient’s doctor will perform a blood test to check their AMH levels and determine the exact concentration of hormones they need.
After about 10 days, the patient comes in for their retrieval.
The patient will be immediately told how many eggs were retrieved.
At most clinics, patients with fewer than 12 eggs will then have an option: to settle with that or to pay for another cycle.
It costs around $450-a-year for egg storage.
The crisis, which fertility experts have called a stunning coincidence, is already producing lawsuits from crestfallen couples.
The first blunder, announced last week, involved a storage tank malfunction on March 4 at University Hospital’s storage center in suburban Cleveland, with as many as 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos possibly damaged.
A San Francisco fertility clinic said thousands of frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged in a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank on the same day.
At least two families have already come forward with lawsuits against UH – Amber and Elliott Ash, of the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village, and an unidentified couple from Pennsylvania.
Speaking to Today, aspiring donor Niki said she cannot imagine the heartbreak, having endured years of failed rounds of IVF herself – and having paid for the years of storage.
‘It’s the loss of a chance to have that family that you’re trying so hard to get,’ Schaefer said.
‘People who freeze their eggs because they’re getting their ovaries removed or going through chemo and can’t try again.
‘I felt like I owed it, in a karmic way, to help those people.’
She said the response to her post has been overwhelmingly positive.
‘It feels good to have gotten a positive reaction to the post,’ Schaefer told Today.
‘And to help in some tangible way. It would be great to get a critical mass of eggs and embryos to help these people.’