GIVF Fertility eNews
December 2007


World-renowned for its pioneering work in infertility and genetics, GIVF developed or perfected many of the treatments and techniques used today in other centers. 

Worldwide, GIVF is responsible for over 14,000 pregnancies.

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International Adoption: The Closing Window

Adoption Graph

After tripling over fifteen years, the number of adoptions by Americans of children from outside the United States has declined sharply. International adoption has never been easy. People who choose to build their families through international adoption have to go through an extensive process that often includes lengthy foreign travel, interactions with social workers and adoption agencies and complex government bureaucracies. The entire process can cost $30,000, or more. Language barriers, cultural differences and jurisdictional issues may compound the difficulties in the process. Waiting times to adopt may extend to years and countries sometimes choose to halt or delay adoptions even when they are in process. Newly tightened laws and regulations have now placed an estimated 5,000 international adoptions at risk of suspension in mid process.

The Hague Conference Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption is the primary cause of the new restrictions. This Convention, which was promulgated in the worthy effort to protect children and adoptive parents from possible abuses in the largely unregulated field of international adoptions, was signed by the United States in November 2007. The United States now has joined seventy other countries in an effort to regulate and standardize adoption practices across borders. Countries from which adoptions are originated must be part of the international regime. The formal effective date for US accession will be April 1, 2008.

The decline in visas for adoptions granted by the US government is evidence of the effect of the change. In response, China has established strict standards for adoptive parents which set an upward limit on age (50) and standards for education and parental body mass index, as well as eliminating adoptions by singles. Russia, which had suspended adoption agencies, has recently re-opened the field to agencies -- but long waiting lists now exist. Adoptions from Guatemala, which have surged in recent years, will be affected by the suspension of private adoption agencies and higher standards to control the fear of abuses resulting from the very low per capita income in that country.

Advocates for the convention believe that in the long run, these rules will benefit both children and prospective parents by ensuring higher standards for international adoption. In the meantime, those considering international adoption are faced with a more arduous and uncertain route and much to think about.

What's New at GIVF

GIVF PROUD TO OFFER NATION'S LEADING DONOR EGG POOL. GIVF is proud to offer the largest pool of immediately available and fully genetically screened egg donors in the country. GIVF currently has 170 donors, many of whom have advanced degrees. Each one has been fully screened by a board certified geneticist and a board certified reproductive endocrinologist. For additional information visit or call (888) 834-2229 for an appointment.

ADVANCED GENOMICS TECHNOLOGY CENTER FORMED GIVF has established the Advanced Genomics Technology Center (AGTC) to centralize its R&D activities in molecular genetics. AGTC is now a member of both the Virginia Biotechnology Association and MdBio, the corresponding association in Maryland.


CHINESE DELEGATION CONFERS AT GIVF A group from the Shanghai Ji Ai Genetics & IVF Institute, China-US Center, visited Fairfax recently to confer with GIVF medical and laboratory staff. The group was headed by Dr. Peng Xiandong who is a senior physician in the clinic, which is a joint venture between GIVF and the Affiliated OB/GYN Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai.



DR. HEARNS-STOKES ON NPR. Dr. Rhonda Hearns-Stokes was interviewed twice recently on NPR's "Tell Me More" program. Dr. Hearns-Stokes discussed fertility issues affecting women over 35 on November 13 and discussed male fertility on December 3. The program, hosted by former ABC news correspondent Michel Martin, reaches a national audience. Dr. Hearns-Stokes has been invited to share her expertise on infertility as a a periodic guest on the program. For more information, visit GIVF in the News.



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What is Natural Cycle IVF?

Have you been wondering what "Natural Cycle IVF" and "Minimal Stimulation IVF" are all about? These methods were employed in the early days of IVF in the 1980s, before modern fertility drugs were developed, to achieve IVF births. As the names imply, natural cycle IVF does not employ fertility drugs and minimal stimulation IVF uses reduced doses of these drugs. These techniques appear to be simpler routines than current IVF methods which use higher doses of fertility drugs, yet they are not part of mainstream practice in fertility clinics. The reason is that these methods are difficult for both clinicians and patients to manage and they have resulted in lower egg and embryo yields as well as lower pregnancy rates. For most patients, current, conventional IVF stimulation methods are far more efficient and effective ways to have a baby.

Sperm Banking to Preserve Fertility for Cancer Patients
Lance ArmstrongThe last thing someone wants to hear from his or her doctor is that they have been diagnosed with cancer. However, in recent years the cure rate of cancers has increased dramatically. As a patient comes to terms with the diagnosis and a treatment plan develops, the patient naturally will begin to think about life after treatment -- often including the possibility of becoming a parent despite the effects of chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiation.
Cancer, itself, can cause infertility. Often, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery might also cause the individual to become infertile. In recent years, sperm banking has become recognized as an effective way to preserve a boy or man's fertility before cancer treatment starts. As long as sperm are successfully frozen and stored in proper conditions, they can survive indefinitely. Sperm that has been frozen for over 25 years has been used successfully to achieve pregnancy.
Lance Armstrong is probably the best known case example of a cancer patient who banked sperm to preserve his fertility. Three years prior to undergoing chemotherapy and surgery for testicular cancer Armstrong banked his sperm in order to preserve his fertility. In 2001, as a result, Lance Armstrong became the father of twins: Isabelle and Grace. His experience with cancer motivated Armstrong to start the Lance Armstrong Foundation which has raised over $60 million from the sale of wristbands to support cancer research.
To support cancer patients who want to preserve their fertility, Cryogenic Laboratories (CLI), a subsidiary of GIVF, recently entered into a partnership with two non-profits active in this area: the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Fertile Hope. The result of this partnership, unveiled in a November 13, 2007 article in The Wall Street Journal, is the Live:On Kit, which reduces the barriers facing a cancer patient who wishes to bank sperm. Thanks to the readily available kit, the time required to find a clinic, distance of sperm banks from their home or hospital, and feeling awkward about going to a sperm banking facility at such an emotional time are all eliminated as obstacles to banking. CLI will donate a portion of the sperm banking and storage fees from the use of the kit to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Fertile Hope to support the needs of cancer survivors.
This kit can be ordered by oncology professionals anytime free of charge to be readily available to distribute to newly diagnosed patients seeking a sperm banking option. Live:On kits can be ordered by calling 800/466-2796 or visiting
Touching Lives, One Person at a Time 
Maureen Hanton, B.S., R.N., M.P.A.
Children in Honduras
Recently, I was invited to join The Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade mission to Honduras. The group, consisting of about eighty doctors, nurses, physical therapists, opticians and non-medical volunteers, traveled to Honduras for a week to provide medical services to the underprivileged. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but I was feeling increasingly apprehensive as the date for departure approached in November. I didn't know what to expect or how I would fit in, or if I would be of good use. Having spent over the past decade at GIVF as an infertility nurse, it had been quite some time since I had been a nurse to someone who was sick.
Once on the ground, my fears quickly evaporated. There was too much work to be done to worry about anything but the patient in front of me. Each day we would travel to a new village and set up our clinic. The doctors would see the patients and refer them to the pharmacy for medications and then the other nurses and I worked with translators to explain the purpose of the medicines and how they should be administered. Many of the patients, who ranged from the elderly to infants, had never seen a doctor before. Even with all the poverty and hunger, the children were delightful; the people were smiling, kind, patient and grateful, even though we all knew the services we provided were just a drop in the ocean of their needs. At the end of each day we dismantled the clinic and loaded our supplies in the truck so we could set it up in a new village the next day. I don't think I have ever been so tired!
I could say the trip was an experience of a lifetime, but I hope it becomes just the first of many for me. The Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade returns to Honduras every year and I plan on being part of the group when it returns. Next time, I'll know what to expect. I'll expect to work hard, learn a lot, laugh with my new friends and marvel at the wonderful spirit of the people of Honduras. In all we saw over 7,200 patients in our one-week trip. Some lives were changed forever; I know mine was.

Copyright 2007 Genetics & IVF Institute