About The NEDC

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About NEDC


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About Us

Since 2003, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) has been the country’s leading comprehensive non-profit embryo donation program.

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

To share the love of Christ through the life-affirming process of embryo adoption while striving to place every donated embryo into a loving home. We will be a beacon in the darkness showing the love and respect due to these cryopreserved human embryos since they represent the very least of us. We look forward to the day when the responsible practice of reproductive medicine will render our services unnecessary.

What Led to the NEDC’s Formation

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 or let them thaw, losing any potential for them to develop into children. 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 life-honoring solution.

How We Live Out the Mission & Vision

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!

Our History

Our Families

Though the vast majority of our families have historically lived in North America, the NEDC serves and is open to families from all over the world.

Multiracial Embryos

The NEDC has a significant number of multi-racial embryos available. No matter your background, the NEDC can help you complete your family.

Our Embryos

Embryos of all ethnicities have been donated to the NEDC.

Our Staff

  • National Embryo Donation Center President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. The National Embryo Donation Center is a leading embryo adoption nonprofit.

    Jeffrey Keenan, M.D., HCLD

    President/Medical Director

    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.

  • John Gordon, M.D.

    John Gordon, M.D.

    NEDC Physician, Southeastern Fertility Co-Director

    Before joining Southeastern Fertility in August 2019, Dr. John David Gordon served as Co-Director of Dominion Fertility in Arlington, VA since 1999. Over those 2 decades he was listed as one of Washington’s top doctors in Washingtonian, Northern Virginia and Arlington magazines.

    Dr. Gordon graduated summa-cum-laude from Princeton University with a degree in Biology and then attended medical school at Duke University. He was an intern in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston and 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. Dr. Gordon was a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and an Associate Clinical Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University / Medical College of Virginia Fairfax Campus. He served as the Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

    Dr. Gordon has a passion for teaching and as a professor, he provided regular lectures in Reproductive Endocrinology to the Obstetrics and Gynecology interns, residents, and medical students. 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 medical handbook with over 150,000 copies in print. This handbook 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.

    Learn more about the Gordon family’s amazing journey to the NEDC in this video.

  • National Embryo Donation Center Embryologist Carol Sommerfelt. The NEDC is a leading embryo adoption nonprofit.

    Carol Sommerfelt, M.SC. ELD (ABB)

    Lab Director Emeritus/ Senior Embryologist

    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. She has been with the NEDC since its establishment in 2003.

    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.

  • Sarah Coe Atkinson, M.SC

    Lab Supervisor/ Embryologist

    Sarah received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Science in the Reproductive Laboratory Science (RLS) track from the University of Kentucky. She completed her clinical practica in assisted reproductive laboratory technology at New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y. Sarah continued to serve the RLS education program by corresponding with applicants, and mentoring new students, as well as teaching labs on embryo culturing and vitrification. She has extensive experience in molecular techniques, data analysis and laboratory management, having held the position of Research Analyst at the University of Kentucky. Sarah led an embryology clinic in Lexington, Kentucky as Lab Supervisor and Senior Embryologist, in the process traveling down to Southeastern Fertility & the NEDC to help out on cycles for 6 years. In March 2021, she moved to Knoxville to join Southeastern Fertility & the NEDC full-time.

  • Mark Mellinger

    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 consists of almost three decades in broadcast journalism. From 2011 to 2018, Mark served as a contributor to The Gospel Coalition, one of the world’s largest Christian websites, where he helped start TGC’s podcast operations and regularly interviewed some of the world’s most influential evangelical teachers and leaders.

    You may email Mark at mmellinger@baby4me.net.

  • Christa Carter

    Christa Carter, RN

    Patient Coordinator

    As one of our patient coordinators, 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.


  • National Embryo Donation Center Donor Nurse Coordinator Kelley Seymour

    Kelley Seymour, RN

    Program Coordinator

    As program coordinator, Kelley Seymour helps shepherd donating families through the embryo donation process and also has a hand in various operations for the NEDC.

    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.

History of NEDC

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 its 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 center. The center would accept all embryos regardless of number or grade and have its partner medical clinic store them on-site. The center would also actively match willing recipients with donors and then facilitate the clinic’s performance of the actual transfers.

Originally part of the Baptist Health System in Knoxville, the new organization began assembling its 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, the NEDC 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 its transfer/success rate, continued to receive grant funding, and moved to a permanent, independent location.

Since its inception, the NEDC has assisted in over 1,100 births. 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 races, religions, creeds, and backgrounds, 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 the Scriptures of the Holy Bible.