NEDC Baby Counter: 844
Since 2003, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) has been the country’s leading comprehensive non-profit embryo donation program. Our mission is to protect the lives and dignity of human embryos. We do that by promoting, facilitating and educating about embryo donation and adoption (ED/EA). We’re also the only clinic-based organization that works with families of all races, faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Our office is in Knoxville, TN.
So why are we here? When couples go through in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are often remaining embryos. Those are frozen and stored for later use. An estimated 700,000 to over 1,000,000 human embryos are stored in the U.S. right now.
When couples decide that their family is complete but still have embryos remaining, there are a few options. They can donate the embryos to research. They can thaw them and let them die. Couples can keep them frozen. Or they can donate them to a couple who is unable to conceive. A lot of people believe embryo donation is the most life-honoring solution.
The NEDC handles the medical, legal and social aspects of ED/EA. When someone donates embryos to us, we become the interim caregiver and store them at no charge to donors.
From there, our team works hard to match the right embryos with the perfect family. You can choose from a huge number of available embryos with no waiting list! We also offer varying communication options between donating and receiving families. Those range from closed to a fully open relationship. Mediation is available for open relationships.
Thanks for visiting. We invite you to explore the website. Maybe the NEDC is the right choice for you!
Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, a highly respected infertility and reproductive medicine specialist, leads the NEDC team. He is the center’s president and medical director and a fertility specialist with the Southeastern Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery in Knoxville, TN. He is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Dr. Keenan is also a professor at the University of Tennessee (UT) Graduate School of Medicine and is director of UT’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. In practice since 1990, Dr. Keenan has performed innumerable fertility procedures with outstanding success rates. To get to know Dr. Keenan better through an in-depth conversation with master interviewer Hallerin Hilton Hill, click here.
As general manager, L.J. Robinson oversees day-to-day business functions of the NEDC. She also serves as the practice manager for the Southeastern Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery. Her 30-year career includes a background as a registered nurse and business experience in hospital administration and company ownership.
Carol Sommerfelt, ELD, is our embryologist and lab director. Carol has numerous years of experience in the areas of human reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies and has been involved in the fertility field since 1977. Prior to joining us, Carol was the laboratory director and embryologist for over 10 years at UT Medical Center in Memphis, TN.
Having been involved with the initial establishment of the NEDC in 2003, Carol is responsible for the procurement and storage of the donated embryos as well as assuring that both donating and receiving couples have completed the necessary steps to either donate their embryos or receive donated embryos.
Marketing and Development Director
Mark Mellinger handles all marketing and public relations functions for the NEDC and is also in charge of our development efforts. He has spent more than two decades working in broadcast journalism, a career he continues by also serving as a news anchor for WATE-TV and hosting a talk show for Bott Radio Network.
Also a professional writer, Mark’s articles have been featured by The Washington Post, The Gospel Coalition and Citizen Magazine. You may email Mark at email@example.com.
Kathi Young loves educating NEDC families and is often the first person couples talk with upon beginning their embryo adoption journey with us. She has more than three decades of experience working as a registered nurse within the medical/surgical, operating room and children’s hospital fields.
Donor Coordinator and Office Manager
As donor coordinator, Laurie Wood helps couples through the process of donating embryos through the NEDC. She has worked in healthcare since she was 18, with 25 of those years spent in healthcare management.
Laurie also manages office operations for the NEDC. She is a native of nearby Blount County and has one son.
The first in vitro fertilization (IVF) or “test tube” baby, Louise Brown, was born in England in 1978 and the first IVF baby in the United States, Elizabeth Carr, was born in 1981. Since that time, the fertility industry has grown enormously and because of that, the number of remaining frozen embryos has significantly increased.
As laboratory technology and techniques improved, the ability to safely freeze and thaw embryos opened the possibilities for families to make additional attempts at becoming pregnant without having to repeat the egg retrieval process. It also allowed them to return for a sibling when they were ready to try again.
While no one truly knows when the first embryo donation occurred, they were usually performed in fertility clinics where the physician facilitated anonymous transfers between patients. In 1997, Nightlight Christian Adoptions expanded their services to include embryo adoption and began to educate the public regarding this option for infertile couples.
In the late 1990’s, the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) approached Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, a Knoxville, Tennessee, Reproductive Endocrinologist, with the idea of creating a medically-based non-profit embryo donation clinic. The clinic would accept all embryos regardless of number or grade and store them on-site. The clinic would also actively match willing recipients with donors and, then, conduct the actual transfers.
Originally part of the Baptist Health System in Knoxville, the new organization began assembling their grassroots staff and formulating the processes, parameters, and protocols needed to create the most beneficial program for both donors and recipients.
By 2003, the NEDC had received several sets of donated embryos from fertility clinics around the country and began to match them with hopeful families. In addition, they pursued and received federal grant funding to educate the public and create awareness of the embryo donation and adoption process.
By 2010, the NEDC had significantly increased their transfer/success rate, continued to receive grant funding, and moved to a permanent, independent location.
Since its inception, the NEDC has performed more than a thousand transfers, assisted in over 600 births, and received over $3,900,000 in federal funding. It has become the premier center for ED/EA services and has been featured in multiple national media stories. The most important story, though, is the one that we can help write for you. We look forward to helping you complete your fertility journey.
While the NEDC is open to couples of all race, religion, creed, and background, our own Christian faith is the overriding principle upon which we operate. As an organization guided by our religious faith and protected by the Constitution of the United States, the NEDC firmly believes in the sanctity of life beginning at conception and recognizes marriage as a sacred union between man and woman as defined by scriptures of the Holy Bible.