Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Professionals May Have Also Been Affected by SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company

In reading Andy Vorzimer's blog, Better Safe than Sorry, which I have attached below, I realized that anyone who has received a check from SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company may be at risk for identity theft. In addition to intended parents, surrogates and egg donors, this group may include individual practitioners such as mental health professionals, attorneys, or physicians. It may also extend to other egg donation/surrogacy agencies as well as labs.

I highly advise anyone affected by this situation to read the post below and take action to protect yourself and your agencies.

Please refer to www.eggdonor.com/blog for ongoing information about this case.

Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
A colleague has passed a long a very troubling concern she has: the possibility that Surrogates, Egg Donors and Intended Parents working with SurroGenesis and/or Michael Charles Financial might be potential candidates for identity theft. I share my friend’s concern given the circumstances and magnitude of the scam that was perpetrated.

As a result, if you ever provided any personal information to SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company, you may want to seriously consider taking immediate steps to protect your financial credit and protect yourself from identity theft. Among other things, I recommend that you contact the three credit reporting agencies and request in writing that:

They add a consumer alert to your credit file stating: “Do not issue credit without receiving verbal confirmation from this phone number: XXX.XXX.XXXX)”.

They do not change your address or phone number on file without receiving written confirmation from you.

They do not release your credit report to anyone without your express permission.

They provide you with your current credit report so you can assess whether there has been any improper activity.

The three credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Order Report# (800) 685-1111
Fraud # (888) 766-0008

EXPERIAN (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
Order Report# (888) 524-3606 or
Fraud # (888) 397-3742

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022

Furthermore, you may want to consider purchasing Identity Theft Protection. There are several companies like LifeLock that might be able to prevent any misappropriation of your identity and financial data. You can find a listing of other recommended Identity Theft Protection services here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Psychological Issues Faced by Infertile Couples

The following article presents the many issues that are faced by couples who have been diagnosed with infertility. The issues are many and include loss of control, helplessness, depression, financial loss, and marital discord. Couples often forget the importance of communication and what brought them to the point of wanting to have a child. It is important for couples to remember that they are going through this process together, not individually and that there is support available for them.

The Emotional Complexity of Infertility

MADISON - When a couple is diagnosed with infertility, it can be an unexpected crisis in their lives.

"It's not a challenge most couples expect to face," comments Julianne Zweifel, PhD, clinical psychologist with UW Health's Infertility and Reproductive Endocrinology Program.

The uncertainty of the situation is one of the reasons why fertility challenges are so difficult to manage emotionally. Is there truly a problem? If there is, how do you proceed? When do you stop? How do you manage the social and emotional issues related to infertility?

"You just don't know what the outcome is going to be," Dr. Zweifel says. "And that's the most difficult part of all of this."

Because the outcome is uncertain, couples may actually put off vacations, or not look for new jobs because of the possibility of becoming pregnant. As a result, their lives get put on hold indefinitely.

"It can be easy for couples to become immobilized because of the potential for kids," continues Dr. Zweifel.

People can forget what they enjoy doing because they're so focused on the next treatment, or the next step.

Counseling can help couples identify and discuss the significant emotional issues they face, as well as any different perspective they may hold.

Infertility Doesn't Have to Be Isolating

Infertility affects individuals differently, and each member of the couple can often feel as if he or she is going through it alone.

It is common for women to feel somehow defective because they are having difficulty conceiving naturally.

"A woman will be interacting with a group of women at a party, and inevitably the stories come up about being pregnant, or breast feeding, or giving birth, and suddenly she's no longer a member of the group," explains Dr. Zweifel, illustrating how it can affect women even in an innocuous setting. "She can feel like less of a woman, or somehow defective. Many women even fear for the stability of their marriage because they can't readily bear a child."

Men, according to Dr. Zweifel, often deny their difficulties - perhaps because they feel the need to be the "rock" of the family, or that their wives will somehow do better or be stronger if they don't see their husbands' emotional struggles. And if the cause of the couple's infertility has to do with the male partner, the emotional impact can be significant for the husband.

Both partners may feel as if they have to shield the other from their experiences, faking how they're really doing to protect the other. The problem is that not being honest can end up contributing to a sense of isolation.

Complicating the issue even further is the cost of fertility treatments. Many of the treatments are not covered by insurance, leaving couples to face the difficult decision of when to conclude treatment. And often, couples themselves don't always agree.

"Men often feel they have to be the fiscal manager, and set a limit on just how much they'll spend," says Dr. Zweifel. And, faced with mounting bills, there can be significant differences in how far each person is willing to go.

"It's a classic dilemma," comments Dr. Zweifel. "Just how much time and money is each individual willing to commit to treatment? When faced with treatments, couples can discover they’re on very different pages."

Dr. Zweifel encourages couples to examine such topics as the stability of their marriage, any religious concerns over assisted reproductive treatments, the acceptance of the extended families, the reality that the treatments may not work and the implications of that fact.

Regardless of what treatments patients are undergoing, however, Dr. Zweifel encourages all of them to remember that life is multi-faceted. While the challenges may seem overwhelming, there are a lot of good things going on in every life.

"There are common pitfalls for couples facing fertility challenges," Dr. Zweifel concludes, "and getting through them requires a lot of little steps. But in the end, it really can bring couples together and make their marriages even stronger."

Dr. Zweifel is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and serves on the executive board for the Mental Health Professional Group. The Group is helping to establish guidelines for egg donors, gestational carriers and oocyte preservation. UW Health’s Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Program operates within the guidelines established by ASRM.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Risks and Benefits of Egg Donation Reported -Most women expressed satisfaction with process, but long-term data lacking

With all the news focusing on women donating eggs solely for financial gain, it is an interesting study that most donors are motivated by altruism in addition to being financially compensated. I screen several egg donors every week and rarely do I come across a donor who lacks altruism and while they may initially be enticed by they money, once they begin the process and are matched with a recipient, they find it is a much more personal experience!

FRIDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women who choose to donate eggs to help infertile couples should know the procedure comes with both psychological and physical risks, the first study to examine the long-term effects of donation shows.

Women also need to know that little data is available to assess whether donating eggs when young has any effect on fertility later in life, experts said.

A new study in the December issue of Fertility and Sterility found that almost one in five women reported lasting psychological effects as a result of egg donation -- some positive and some negative. Some women felt a sense of pride in helping an infertile couple, while others developed concerns about the people who were raising their genetic offspring.

Still, two-thirds of women who donated eggs reported satisfaction with the process, the study found.

"Women need to look at the risk involved very carefully, and pay attention to what they're being told about risks, not just to what they're being offered to do it," said study author Nancy Kenney, an associate professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The process of egg donation isn't tightly regulated by the U.S. government, as it is in western European countries and Canada. For example, in the United Kingdom, egg donation is viewed in the same manner as organ donation, and is done without compensation to the woman providing the eggs, according to background information in the study.

To get an idea of what the egg donation process is like for a woman in the United States, the researchers administered questionnaires to 80 women -- average age 30.6 years old when surveyed -- who had donated their eggs at least once. The researchers wanted to know what a woman experiences during the process, and to answer such questions as what motivates a woman to donate, how aware of the risks women are when they donate, and how did they feel about donating their eggs several years after the procedure?

The researchers found that both altruism and money motivated the women to donate their eggs. More than 30 percent of the women surveyed said altruism alone motivated them to donate their eggs, while just under 20 percent were motivated solely by cash. About 40 percent of the women said both altruism and the promise of money motivated them.

The study found that women who donated eggs received an average of about $4,000 each time they donated. Although there isn't a set number of eggs harvested during each donation, Kenney said a typical donation may number in the teens.

When asked about the physical risks of the donation process, many women felt the risks involved were minor, and 20 percent didn't recall being made aware of any physical risks, such as ovarian hyper-stimulation due to hormone injections, or infection. Kenney pointed out that this doesn't necessarily mean the women weren't told of the risks; it may simply be that they didn't recall the risks.

"Often risk is not as meaningful to the young," Kenney said.

Women who reported physical problems with donation cited bloating, pain and cramping, ovarian hyperstimulation, mood changes and irritability, as well as weight gain or loss, as common complaints. Several women contended they had suffered infertility, decreased fertility or damage to their ovaries, the study authors said.

The survey also found that:

Seventy percent of the women donated eggs more than once, with most repeat donors undergoing the procedure two or three times. One woman donated eggs nine times.
Forty-five percent of the women were students when they first donated.
Most of the donations took place in California (23), Massachusetts (seven), New York (seven), Washington (seven) and New Jersey (seven).
Dr. Harry Lieman, medical director of the Montefiore Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health in New York City, said his clinic's own consent form is about 12 to 13 pages long, and that women are definitely informed of both potential physical and psychological risks.

Both Kenney and Lieman expressed concern that there aren't really any long-term studies on the effects of egg donation on the donor's fertility. And, there aren't likely to be any because the process is generally anonymous in the United States and there is no registry of health information from women who've donated their eggs.

Still, most women who went through the donation process were happy with the experience, the new study found.

Lieman said women donating eggs should know there definitely is a "positive side" to donation, and that these women are doing something special to help infertile couples. "They're bringing a whole world to these couples," he said.