NEDC Baby Counter: 667
This is the place to find the latest news on and media coverage of testimonials about the NEDC. We have great relationships with journalists. It is our privilege to provide them with positive news stories. Local TV stations across the country cover the NEDC regularly. Our cutting-edge work has also received coverage from national and international media outlets. Some of these include The Washington Post, NBC Nightly News, BBC, Focus on the Family Citizen Magazine and Newsmax Magazine.
Enjoy checking out what’s going on with the NEDC. Also, click here to find a bunch more cool stories from families we’ve served.
August 4, 2017
Just over a year since its release on the NEDC YouTube channel, “Three Times The Blessing: The Halberts’ Story” is nearing the 700,ooo-view mark. In the video, parents Aaron and Rachel Halbert share the story of how God blessed them with triplets through the NEDC as well as two more children through traditional adoption. Click here to watch this moving video.
July 24, 2017
WKYC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, told the story of Ray and Angela Hogle and their son Jacob. As reporter Dawn Kendrick put it, Jacob, an NEDC baby, is the Hogles’ “bonus baby blessing in tiny boots.” Click here to watch Dawn’s touching and informative report.
May 25, 2017
NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan wrote the editorial below. It was posted on The Gospel Coalition website May 25, 2017, and excerpts were also cited by commentator Eric Metaxas on the BreakPoint radio broadcast and website.
Earlier this month, the world was shocked by a story about an Australian company that makes jewelry out of human embryos. The company, Baby Bee Hummingbirds, caters to people who have leftover frozen embryos from the in vitro fertilization process. The “straws” in which the embryos are stored are cremated and turned into pendants. Company founder Amy McGlade believes Baby Bee Hummingbirds is pioneering a “sacred art” that gives families with extra embryos another option besides storage, donation, or destruction.
The original article told the story of a couple with seven remaining embryos who took advantage of this new option. Their embryos were cremated and put into a heart-shaped pendant worn by the mother, Belinda Stafford. “Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake,” Stafford said, adding that she finally felt comfort, joy, and peace.
While it seems embryo jewelry resolved a difficult situation for the Staffords, nothing could be further from the truth. The embryo jewelry concept provides false comfort through deception and denial. First, the whole process appears to be a hoax. I’m a reproductive endocrinologist who has personally performed more than 1,000 frozen embryo transfers. Frozen human embryos are delicate and microscopically small. When the straws storing them are cremated, the embryos themselves would essentially be vaporized.
What remains in the “embryo ash” turned into jewelry, then, aren’t the embryos, but burnt remnants of the device in which they were stored. Baby Bee Hummingbirds could take a coffee straw from a fast food restaurant, burn it, put it into jewelry, and produce substantially the same product. Though a simple DNA test on the ashes could prove the legitimacy of the company’s claims, it hasn’t made the results of such tests available to the public.
“Embryo jewelry” appears to be fraudulent, but regardless of the content of the pendants, the company is perpetrating an even bigger fraud: the idea that the creation of such jewelry is not identical to embryo destruction. The Staffords said they didn’t have the heart to destroy their remaining embryos, but they turned them over to Baby Bee to do exactly that.
My point isn’t to condemn the Staffords. They found themselves, perhaps unwittingly, in a difficult and emotionally charged situation. Disposing of remaining embryos is a matter of great angst, and couples facing this decision deserve to be treated with compassion. The tragedy is that the Staffords were deceived into believing embryo jewelry isn’t embryo destruction. Stafford herself called the embryos “her babies” and mistakenly believed that she was somehow preserving them by turning them into jewelry. How alarming to see the horror of death so easily spun into a symbol of comfort and joy.
The truly life-affirming solution would have been for the Staffords to donate their remaining embryos to another couple waiting to welcome children into their home. The article said donation wasn’t an option for the Staffords, but it’s unclear if they were unable to donate or whether donation was an option they had personally ruled out.
The organization I help lead, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), would have been glad to accept the Staffords’ seven remaining embryos. We take embryos free of charge from donors all over the United States and from some foreign countries as well, including Australia. How I wish this couple would have chosen life for their embryos and turned to us instead of Baby Bee.
Embryo donation isn’t an easy step for couples to take, but it’s the only life-honoring one.
The Staffords aren’t the only couple to face this dilemma. In the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of these embryonic lives are frozen in time. At the NEDC, we’ve had the privilege of helping thousands of lives out of the freezer. About 650 of those have come to birth and been ushered into the arms of caring mothers and fathers.
Embryo donation isn’t an easy step for couples to take, but it’s the only life-honoring one. Naturally, the thought of turning one’s genetic children over to another family can be jarring. The key, however, is to consider the best interest of the embryos that have been created. Don’t they deserve a chance at birth and a full life?
At the NEDC we do all we can to ensure their placement into stable, loving homes—in some ways mimicking the traditional adoption process. Donors can have open or anonymous relationships with the adopting couples, most of whom have spent years battling infertility. The ability to help another couple build the family they’ve always dreamed of is another beautiful dimension of embryo donation. Perhaps the Staffords would have received far greater comfort in having a relationship with the birth family of their donated embryos and seeing them experience the joy of growing up in a loving family.
While it was heartening to see widespread outrage at the concept of so-called embryo jewelry, increasing awareness of and participation in embryo donation and adoption would be even more encouraging and constructive.
February 15, 2017
WDRB anchor Valerie Chinn profiled an NEDC family in Louisville and visited our lab in Knoxville for an in-depth special report that aired on the station’s 6 and 11 pm newscasts. Click here to check out Valerie’s eye-opening look at the ins and outs of embryo adoption.
September 26, 2016
The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), one of the world’s leading non-profit advocates and providers of embryo donation and embryo adoption, is celebrating the 600th baby born through its embryo adoption program.
The healthy baby, “adopted” as a frozen embryo, was born Monday, September 19. The family expressed happiness and gratitude toward the NEDC but prefers to remain anonymous. This birth marks the first time any embryo adoption program has reached the 600-birth milestone. “We’ve been blessed with great success,” said NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “It’s humbling to reflect upon the fact that hundreds of families now have the children they have longed for and hundreds of mothers have been able to experience pregnancy because of the NEDC.”
After years of planning, the NEDC opened its doors in West Knoxville in 2003. The formation was the result of a vision cast by Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) CEO Dr. David Stevens, who saw the need for a high-quality, scientifically and ethically sound way to honor the dignity of the human embryo. This vision was shared by Dr. Keenan, Baptist Health System of East Tennessee and Bethany Christian Services. All of those entities collaborated with CMDA to found the NEDC, which began performing frozen embryo transfers in 2004. The first births from the NEDC’s embryo adoption program occurred in 2005.
Since then, the faith-based NEDC has gained distinction as a leading comprehensive non-profit embryo adoption program, with more pregnancies through embryo adoption than any other organization or clinic. Its dual purpose is to protect the lives and dignity of frozen embryos that would not be used by their genetic parents and to help other couples build the families they have longed for via donated embryos. Embryos have been donated to the NEDC from all 50 states and couples have traveled to Knoxville from all over the United States as well as some foreign countries for their embryo transfers.
August 9, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, president and medical director of the National Embryo Donation Center, announced the NEDC’s opposition to the National Institutes of Health’s plans to lift a moratorium on federal funding of research involving so-called chimeric embryos. The research involves adding human stem cells to animal embryos in the hopes of uncovering medical breakthroughs to treat a variety of diseases and health problems. Because of ethical concerns, the NIH has had a moratorium on federal funding for such experiments in place since September.
Dr. Keenan of the NEDC issued the following statement opposing the proposed NIH change in policy:
“We share in the desire to find cures for human suffering. In fact, our lives are devoted to that. But this research must be done in a responsible and ethical manner. 16 years ago we were promised that embryonic stem cell research would provide cures within a decade, and to date, there are no cures and this research has been all but abandoned.”
“Induced pluripotent stem cells are the most promising research area and we should not funnel money away from this technology to provide funding for untested and morally problematic research. The proposed research would not include monkeys or apes because they are “too close” genetically to humans. That is true, but how long do you think it will take until these guidelines are also eliminated?”
“If such research is to be done, it should be done in the private sector, and only under strict government regulation. At present, there are no laws in the U.S. regulating this type of research. It’s problematic because it blurs the lines between humans and animals. When would an animal have enough human characteristics and features to make it not just an animal anymore? There is no answer to this question, and any attempt to answer it would never have a consensus. This technology also runs the risk of violating the principle of informed consent on human subjects. These moral problems are not justified by the remote possibility of long term gains. This technology could even enable animals to contract human infections and diseases, and vice versa. Bottom line: the potential for harm in this area is staggering.”
The public has until September 6 to comment on the proposed change in policy and may do so at this link: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=57. For more on the NEDC’s reasons for opposing the policy change, please refer to the Christian Medical & Dental Associations ethics statement on the matter.
To listen to a radio interview on NewsTalk 98.7 WOKI in which the NEDC commented more extensively on this subject, click here.
July 26, 2016
Local 8 News Anchor Alan Williams featured the National Embryo Donation Center and told the story of one of our families, the Laughertys, for his “Keeping the Faith” series on WVLT-TV’s 5 pm newscast on July 26, 2016. Click here to check out the story!
July 18, 2016
Jasmine Taylor-Coleman of the BBC got a firsthand look at embryo adoption during a recent visit to the National Embryo Donation Center. The reporter followed Jennifer and Aaron Wilson through a frozen embryo transfer and was able to learn about how the process works at the NEDC. Click here to read the comprehensive story.
May 21, 2016
10 News Anchor Beth Haynes visited and profiled the National Embryo Donation Center and one of the NEDC’s embryo adoption couples, Jerry and Amber Lacey, as part of a week-long series of special reports on infertility for WBIR-TV’s evening newscasts. Click here to check out the story!
April 28, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) was already celebrating record pregnancy and birth rates for its embryo adoption program. Now, after reviewing just-released national statistics, the Knoxville-based NEDC is able to compare its numbers to those of all U.S. clinics performing donated frozen embryo transfers (FETs).
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), 36.4 percent of all donor FETs performed in 2014 resulted in births. 53.8 percent of all donor FETs performed by the NEDC in 2014 resulted in births, outpacing the combined national rate by more than 17 percent. Since its inception, the birth rate of the NEDC’s program has been about 50 percent.
“This is National Infertility Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to reflect on what a privilege it is to help build families through embryo donation and embryo adoption,” said Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, NEDC president and medical director. “Though we at the NEDC are grateful for the success of our program in particular, we’re also encouraged to see such a birth rate for all clinics nationally.”
Dr. Keenan also pointed out that, according to SART, 1200 donor FETs were performed nationwide in 2014. “This shows that embryo adoption is becoming increasingly common. That number is about double what it was less than a decade ago,” said Dr. Keenan. “We’re thankful the word is getting out about this life-affirming family-building option, which actually allows a mother to carry her adopted child.” About 10 percent of all donor FETs taking place in 2014 were performed by the NEDC.
April 21, 2016
Aaron Halbert shared his family’s experience in The Washington Post after his wife, Rachel, gave birth to triplets via embryo adoption. The editorial, which touched on the faith that motivated Aaron and Rachel to adopt children of a differing ethnicity (both via traditional and embryo adoption), went viral and was The Post’s most-read story of the day online, even generating more interest and discussion than the news of Prince’s death. It remained one of The Post’s most-read stories for several more days.
Click here to check out the editorial.
March 31, 2016
NBC Nightly News followed Rayn and Richard Galloway through a frozen embryo transfer at the National Embryo Donation Center and told the story on the evening newscast in late March of 2016. Click here to check out the report.
NBC also put together a web extra focusing more specifically on the work of the NEDC. Click here to view that.
January 18, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The National Embryo Donation Center, along with our donation and adoption families, is celebrating unprecedented success after compiling the latest statistics from our embryo adoption program.
61.5 percent of the Knoxville-based NEDC’s frozen embryo transfers (FETs) in 2014 resulted in pregnancies, and 53.8 percent resulted in births. Those numbers are considerably higher than previously reported national averages for all clinics performing FETs. In 2013, the most recent year for which national numbers are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50.1 percent of donor FETs resulted in pregnancies and 40.2 percent resulted in births.
Final pregnancy and birth statistics always lag considerably behind the year the FETs were performed simply because the outcomes cannot all be measured and reported until the nine-month gestation process has been completed for each patient who achieves pregnancy.
“These numbers –the highest in our program’s history- are really something to celebrate because they’re not just statistics. They represent the tiniest of lives being rescued and welcomed into loving homes,” said NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “We obviously do our best to optimize care whenever we perform embryo transfers. But as a Christian organization, I think the constant and fervent prayers of those leading and supporting the NEDC are also a huge reason for our unparalleled success.”
January 7, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- The National Embryo Donation Center is expanding its reach through the realization of a longstanding goal: the addition of an affiliate clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. Debra Schell of Milwaukee OB-GYN is now available to facilitate frozen embryo transfers (FETs) under the auspices of the Knoxville-based NEDC.
“This is wonderful news,” said NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “This addition means more convenience because couples will have less distance to travel for their care.” Rather than making the trek to Knoxville, many NEDC patients in the Midwest, Great Plains, Pacific Northwest and Mountain West states will now be able to save travel time by having their FETs performed in Milwaukee. The NEDC should also be able to help a greater number of couples than the 120 to 140 it has been serving annually.
Citing Dr. Schell’s nearly 25 years of experience in reproductive endocrinology and the top-flight lab team with which she works, Dr. Keenan added that this move will make the NEDC –already the national leader among embryo adoption programs- even stronger. Dr. Schell said, “I look forward to working with the NEDC as a satellite location in the Midwest helping to provide frozen embryo transfers of donated embryos to couples who wish to start or increase their family by adopting some of these embryos.”
Dr. Keenan would like to add more affiliates and invites any interested clinics or medical professionals to contact the NEDC. The organization has operated an affiliate clinic once before, in Indianapolis from 2005 to 2009.