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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 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 share our belief that embryo donation is the most life-honoring solution.
The NEDC provides for all the medical, legal and social aspects of ED/EA. When someone donates embryos to us, we become the interim caregiver and our medical partners at Southeastern Fertility 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 Southeastern Fertility 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.
Dr. John David Gordon is an NEDC physician and co-director of Southeastern Fertility. He was born and raised in suburban Boston where he attended Milton Academy. He matriculated at Princeton University and graduated summa-cum-laude with a degree in Biology. Following Princeton he attended medical school at Duke University. Dr. Gordon was an intern in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston. He then completed his residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University Medical Center and his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Gordon is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and subspecialty board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
From 1996-1999 Dr. Gordon was Associate Director at Long Island IVF. In 1999 he became the Co-Director at Dominion Fertility in Arlington, VA. Over the next 20 years Dr. Gordon was consistently voted as one of Washington’s Top Doctors in Washingtonian, Northern Virginia and Arlington magazines. While in Virginia, in addition to his busy clinical practice, Dr. Gordon served as the Division Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Inova Fairfax Hospital and held the titles of Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at VCU as well as Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The George Washington University. Dr. Gordon is the author of many scientific articles and several books but he is best known to health professionals as the Editor-in-Chief of “Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Infertility,” a best-selling handbook with over 150,000 copies in print that is used worldwide by medical students, residents, physicians, and women’s health care providers. Dr. Gordon has been honored on numerous occasions for his educational activities and is a three-time recipient of the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) National Resident Teaching Award. Dr. Gordon is the coauthor of the patient friendly and informative book, “100 Questions and Answers About Infertility, 2nd Edition.”
Dr. Gordon is committed to reducing the problem of the creation of too many embryos in IVF and he was very enthusiastic about the development of the Natural Cycle IVF (NC IVF) program at Dominion. In NC IVF the single egg produced each month is retrieved, fertilized and transferred. There are no extra embryos produced so the issue of abandoned embryos is avoided. While practicing in Virginia Dr. Gordon was very supportive of embryo adoption in general and the work of the NEDC in particular. After prayerful consideration, Dr. Gordon made the decision to leave his practice of 20 years in order to follow God’s call and relocate his family to Knoxville in order to work with Dr. Keenan and the NEDC.
As general manager, L.J. Robinson oversees day-to-day business functions of the NEDC. She also serves as the practice administrator for Southeastern Fertility. 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.
Check out the Facebook Live video below for a rare chance to go inside the lab with Carol, checking out embryos in their storage tanks and under the microscope.
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. His background includes almost three decades in broadcast journalism, mostly as a TV news anchor and interviewer.
Mark has also written for outlets like The Washington Post and The Gospel Coalition. You may email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As patient coordinator, Christa Carter helps recipients navigate the embryo adoption process with the NEDC. Christa is a Registered Nurse with previous experience at the Knox County Health Department, St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Little Rock, AR, and Baylor Medical Center in Carrolton, TX.
Christa and her family make their home in Knoxville, where she is also a member and volunteer at Two Rivers Church.
Get to know Christa better in this video!
Donor Nurse Coordinator
As donor nurse coordinator, Kelley Seymour helps shepherd donating families through the embryo donation process.
Kelley has more than 25 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, much of that in women’s health. Most importantly, she has a passion for what the NEDC is all about.
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 assisted in over 1,000 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.