Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Though unsure if I should give my embryos to a non-Jewish couple, I realized that it was time to put up or shut up. I needed to say "yes" or move on. I decided to ask the final questions that might rule this couple out as recipients. Here's what I asked:

"What blood type is Erin? What chronic health conditions does each of you have (diabetes, cancer, psoriassis, asthma etc). Do you smoke? Drink?"

Unlike most of my earlier questions, there was a definite possibility that the potential recipients could end the process here, depending on their answers.

If I wanted to make sure these embryos would never turn into children I had the option of getting the vials from the clinic, thawing them in my sink and bidding them adieu. Since I wanted to give another family the chance to have children, I had decided not to give the embryos to anyone who smoked or was clinically obese.

According to Medical News Today, women trying to get pregnant through IVF have a one-third lower chance if they are smokers or if they are obese. I already knew that Erin was slender based on the photos she and Jenny had sent. The smoking issue was much more important than the weight issue because second-hand smoke would continue to affect the baby during and after pregnancy. Obesity would make it less likely that the pregnancy would succeed but the mother's obesity would not in and of itself kill the child the way smoking could.

I had once been asked for the embryos by a woman who was very sick with cancer. She did not reveal the severity of her condition until I asked more directly. I would not give the embryos to someone likely to orphan their children.

I wanted to know Erin's blood type because the odds were three to 4 that children from these embryos would have A-positive blood. There is nothing wrong with that, it's a normal blood type. The problem was, if Erin had a negative blood type there was a chance the embryo could die before birth or the child could be very sick at birth due to blood type incompatibility. This is not something unique to IVF. Rh-negative women who conceive naturally with Rh-positive men have the same potential problem. It can be addressed with shots of Rhogam during pregnancy, but that is not a definite cure.

An Rh-negative blood type would not be a deal-breaker for Erin and Jenny, but it would factor into my calculations, and could tip the balance against them.

These were my remaining concerns, other than the religion issue. If Jenny and Erin cleared these hurdles, I would need to make a final decision about how to approach the difference between our cultural heritages. But it would take several "correct" answers for us to even get to that point. I waited to learn if we were going forward.