What is Third Party Reproduction?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Jamie Pursley is going to become a mother for the first time this April. But she's not pregnant. Her cousin is. Despite the ups and downs of carrying a baby to term, Kristen Broome says, "It was still something I wanted to give someone else."
Pursley had to have an emergency hysterectomy about a year ago. She was four months pregnant at the time and lost the baby boy. (She started the www.robertwilliamfoundation.org in his honor.) Now, Pursley cannot get pregnant. But she has viable eggs. Doctors used them and her husband's sperm and implanted the resulting embryo in Broome's uterus.
It's one option in a scenario called "third party reproduction" and it's growing in popularity. Dr. Nancy Teaff of Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte (REACH) says her patients ask about it, "Probably...once a week now."
Teaff says third party reproduction is an attractive choice for older couples, lesbian or gay couples or couples with medical issues, like Pursley. Donor sperm can be used, donor egg or donor womb. In cases where the parties know each other, there is "lots of counseling needed. Everyone has to sit down with a psychologist, both separately and together," explains Teaff.
There's not a lot of North Carolina law that guides these relationships, so contracts become very important. The legal issues keep some fertility clinics from tackling these cases. But at REACH, "We've found it incredibly rewarding," says Teaff.
Motivated patients can get through the medical and psychological screenings in about a month. The entire process can cost about $20,000, but financing is available.