A desperate New York mother has had her prayers answered after a US couple said they are willing to swap embryos with her so she can have the daughter she’s always wanted.
Last week, the New York Post reported that Lisa (whose name has been changed for privacy reasons) sent out a Facebook plea, asking to swap her frozen female embryo with someone who has a male embryo.
Now Jodie and James, who asked that their last names and location not be revealed, said they are willing to trade their one exisiting male embryo for the female embryo of Lisa and Ray.
“We want to complete our family with a son,” Lisa posted at the time. “We have a quality female embryo. Would you consider a trade?”
Jodie and James saw the New York Post story and were among a number of interested couples who responded to Lisa’s plea.
The publication reported that Jodie had no difficulty conceiving her two sons, now 12 and 10, however as she tried for another, she was diagnosed with fertility problems.
The couple underwent four cycles of IVF costing around US$6,000 (AU$8,322) each, but were unsuccessful. Finally in 2013, they decided to try using a donor egg with James’ sperm, which resulted in the boy embryo they now have.
“I was devastated it was a boy,” Jodie told the New York Post. “It wasn’t a tough decision not to go ahead and implant the boy. It just didn’t seem right.”
The couple are paying $395 a year to have the embryo stored at the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine (SIRM) centre in New Jersey.
With the growing popularity of IVF, more parents-to-be are able to manipulate the gender of their baby. However, according to Parents magazine, if you don’t have fertility issues to start with, you wouldn’t be eligible for IVF in the US simply for the purpose of gender selection.
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethical guidelines on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), prohibits gender selection unless there’s a medical need. In 2017, the medical council upheld this ban, except when there is a compelling medical reason.
But it hasn’t stopped people seeking out the service. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, hundreds of Aussie parents are now travelling to US facilities every year to secretly choose the gender of their baby.
Prior to the ban being upheld last year, Kolb Fertility Australia said it was sending roughly five people to its California clinic each month for gender selection. Now they are sending 15 to 20 every month, and hundreds each year.
More than 13,500 IVF babies were born in Australia in 2016-17 and one in 25 Australian babies are now born via IVF.