Executive Briefings

Discounts, Guarantees and the Search for 'Good' Genes: The Booming Fertility Business

When Julie Schlomer got the news that she was finally pregnant at the age of 43, her thoughts turned to the other mothers. There were three of them in all, complete strangers, but they shared an extraordinary bond made possible by 21st-century medicine and marketing: They were all carrying half-siblings.

Under a cost-saving program offered by Rockville-based Shady Grove Fertility, the women split 21 eggs harvested from a single donor — blue-eyed, dark-haired, with a master’s degree in teaching. Each had the eggs fertilized with her partner’s sperm and transferred to her womb.

Schlomer gave birth to twins, a son and daughter, now 3. She hopes her children will one day connect with their genetic half-siblings.

“I would love to see pictures of the other kids, to talk to them,” Schlomer said.

The multibillion-dollar fertility industry is booming, and experimenting with business models that are changing the American family in new and unpredictable ways. Would-be parents seeking donor eggs and sperm can pick and choose from long checklists of physical and intellectual characteristics. Clinics now offer volume discounts, package deals and 100 percent guarantees for babymaking that are raising complicated ethical and legal questions.

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Under a cost-saving program offered by Rockville-based Shady Grove Fertility, the women split 21 eggs harvested from a single donor — blue-eyed, dark-haired, with a master’s degree in teaching. Each had the eggs fertilized with her partner’s sperm and transferred to her womb.

Schlomer gave birth to twins, a son and daughter, now 3. She hopes her children will one day connect with their genetic half-siblings.

“I would love to see pictures of the other kids, to talk to them,” Schlomer said.

The multibillion-dollar fertility industry is booming, and experimenting with business models that are changing the American family in new and unpredictable ways. Would-be parents seeking donor eggs and sperm can pick and choose from long checklists of physical and intellectual characteristics. Clinics now offer volume discounts, package deals and 100 percent guarantees for babymaking that are raising complicated ethical and legal questions.

Opens external link in new windowRead Full Article