GIVF Fertility eNews
March 2009

Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence


GIVF - 25 Years of Excellence


Worldwide, GIVF is responsible for over 18,000 pregnancies.

Find out how we can help you. Call us today at 800.552.4363.

 Forward to a Friend
Forward to a Friend 

Jennifer Machovina, RN, BSN, Director, Donor Egg Program
Andrew Dorfmann, MS, ELD (ABB), Director, Embryology Laboratory
When we met Stacy in June 2007, it would have been hard to imagine all the twists and turns that lay ahead for her, and how in the end, GIVF would use an exciting new embryology technique for cryopreserving oocytes to help her and her husband to complete their family.
Like so many couples who come to GIVF for help starting a family, she and her husband had wanted to have a baby for a long time. They had used In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to have their first child and were overjoyed when they succeeded on their very first try and Stacy gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Unfortunately, when it came time to try again they didn't have the same luck.

Stacy and her husband were at a difficult crossroad, so they decided to look into other options. During a consultation on future treatment options, we discussed our donor egg program with her. As it happened, GIVF was studying the feasibility of oocyte cryopreservation (often called "freezing") using a new method called vitrification. This new method has the potential for great flexibility and efficiency in the donor egg process and is also a way for certain women to preserve their fertility in the face of cancer or increasing age. As part of a clinical trial, GIVF was offering several cycles of vitrified donor oocytes to pioneering recipient couples who qualified for the study. Stacy and her husband were perfect for the trial and decided to become participants.

When their treatment cycle began, two embryos were transferred into Stacy's uterus. After waiting through eleven anxious days before she could have a pregnancy test, we were able to give her the great news that her test was positive! She had overcome her first hurdle, but there was still a long way to go. Her next pregnancy test showed a great rise in her pregnancy level.  Therefore, we tentatively scheduled an ultrasound for her sixth week of pregnancy.

We walked into the office that day full of nervous excitement. We had not yet achieved a pregnancy through oocyte vitrification at GIVF, but were very hopeful about this case. Would this be the day we'd be able to hear an incredible sound and the proof of all our hard work, patience and perseverance? Standing in the hall outside the procedure room, we heard all of the normal sounds of a gestational ultrasound: the sonographer clicking buttons on the ultrasound machine and the physician chatting away while putting on his gloves. Then, there was a seemingly endless silence, until we heard the wondrous sound of a heartbeat. When we understood what had happened, tears instantly welled up and we were speechless. We were able to help Stacy and her husband create a miracle. Now, Stacy and her husband are enjoying a beautiful baby girl. For them, it is a dream come true. It is also a dream realized for the GIVF staff. The nurses and physician, Dr. Stephen Lincoln, the donor coordinators and the innovative professionals in the Embryology Lab all know that we accomplished something significant and meaningful for Stacy and for future patients. Stacy's pregnancy was the culmination of extensive research at GIVF on how to cryopreserve eggs so that, when warmed, they will fertilize and create a healthy pregnancy. We realize that GIVF achieved yet another milestone in our quest for new ways to help our patients. But most importantly, we were able to help this incredible couple fulfill their dream of having another child to love. We wish them great health and happiness in the years to come and we look forward to helping many other couples with the same innovative technology.

What's New at GIVF

FROZEN DONOR EGGS NOW AVAILABLE. GIVF is pleased to offer vitrified (frozen) donor egg cycles from its egg vitrification research trial to those interested recipients who qualify for this program.  This option provides a very affordable way for couples to participate in our donor egg IVF program.  The cost of a single cycle is just $10,000.00.  For additional information on this new and exciting opportunity, please contact Jenn Machovina, RN at 703-698-7355 or 1-800-552-4363.
INTRODUCING OUR NEW SPLIT DONOR EGG OPTION. GIVF has also recently introduced this new payment option for sharing a fresh Donor Egg IVF cycle with another recipient.  A Split Cycle means that two recipient couples are matched with one donor, cycles are synchronized and the eggs retrieved from this donor are shared or "split" between both recipients. 
This allows patients to attempt pregnancy through the use of donor eggs and still experience the same high pregnancy rates, while decreasing their overall costs.  This one time payment option allows patients to save almost 50% in comparison to our single cycle option.  For information and specific details, please contact your GIVF financial counselor at 703-698-7355 or 1-800-552-4363.
FREE IVF SEMINAR / FREE IVF CYCLE. On March 28 GIVF will hold a free seminar called "Responsible IVF" from 10:00AM through noon (followed by a Q&A session) at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia. Ervin E. Jones, MD, PhD, FACOG, will discuss current options in IVF treatment. Andrew Dorfmann, MS, ELD, embryology laboratory director, and Mary Sands, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor will also present. Financial counselors will be available during and following the Q&A and can explain GIVF's innovative multi-cycle option and other programs. One free IVF cycle will be awarded to a seminar attendee and others will receive 10% discounts off of the base fee of a single IVF cycle. To find out more about the seminar or to register, please call 703-698-7355 or login at
FREE DONOR EGG IVF SEMINAR / FREE DONOR EGG IVF CYCLE. GIVF is organizing a free seminar on donor egg IVF in New York City that will take place in April. A free donor egg IVF cycle will be awarded to one attendee and 10% discounts off of the base fee of a single donor egg IVF cycle will be given to other seminar attendees. To find out more or pre-register to receive details about the seminar in the next two weeks, please call 703-698-7355 or login at
ZERO PERCENT FINANCING. Patients who schedule initial consults before April 30, 2009 may take advantage of zero percent financing GIVF is making available to qualifying applicants. If you are interested, please contact the Scheduling Office at 703-698-7355.

DR. LINCOLN NAMED BEST DOCTOR. Stephen R. Lincoln, MD, FACOG, was named in the list of "Best Doctors" published by Northern Virginia magazine.

Ask a Question  
"What types of genetic testing does GIVF perform on donors and why?"
Harvey J. Stern MD, PhD, FACMG, FAAP
Director of Medical Genetics, Genetics & IVF Institute
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) published revised guidelines for screening egg donors in November 2008. For the most part, the extent of genetic screening is left to the discretion of the individual clinic or agency. The GIVF Donor Egg Program performs the following genetic testing on all of our donors as part of our rigorous screening process:
1.  Chromosome analysis (karyotype). ASRM considers this testing optional, but we do not! Approximately 1 of 300 to 1 of 500 individuals carries a structural rearrangement of the chromosomes (translocation, inversion). This rearrangement does not create medical issues until the person attempts to reproduce. Carriers of chromosome rearrangements can suffer multiple early miscarriages or give birth to children with severe physical and/or mental disability.
2.  Fragile X syndrome. This is the most common form of inherited mental retardation/learning disability. Studies have shown that 1 of 260 presumably healthy women carry a precursor of this condition called a pre-mutation. People who inherit this pre-mutation from a carrier parent can have fragile X syndrome (severe mental and physical disability) or milder forms of learning disability in females. Carriers of fragile X pre-mutations have premature ovarian failure or respond poorly to IVF stimulation, which would make them very unsatisfactory donors. Again, ASRM considers this testing optional, but we do not!
3.  Hemoglobinopathy screening. There are hundreds of variants of the red blood cell protein hemoglobin. Some are familiar and produce known conditions such as Sickle Cell disease and others are more rare and specific for a particular ethnic group, for example, Thalassemia (a severe anemia) in Italians, Greeks and Asians. All donors are screened for hemoglobin variants by a combination of blood tests.
4.  Cystic Fibrosis (CF) screening. CF is a genetic disorder that causes the body to produce thick mucus which can affect the lungs, intestines and reproductive systems. Approximately 1 in 25 Caucasians (and a significant number of people of other ethnicities), carry a genetic alteration in the CF gene. If the other parent also is a CF carrier, they are at-risk to have children affected with CF. ASRM recommends CF testing for all potential egg donors.
5.  Three generation pedigree. This determines if any specific disease or pattern of genetic conditions is present in the family of the potential donor. Clarification of the history or other specific genetic testing can then be ordered where appropriate.
Ethnic-specific genetic screening is performed for donors who are Ashkenazi Jewish, including carrier testing for:
  1. Tay Sachs disease (French-Canadian donors are also tested for TS.)
  2. Canavan disease
  3. Gaucher disease
  4. Familial Dysautonomia
GIVF periodically reviews the group of genetic tests that we require and may alter the list if new recommendations emerge from the ASRM or American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


franklinA woman's fingerprints on the fingerprints of life
In 1962, James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for the work all three performed in nucleic acid research, but primarily for the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Watson and Crick.  In popular culture Watson and Crick are often referred to as the men who discovered DNA, the genetic code that carries the "instructions" for the development and functioning of cells and organisms. Popular history is deficient, however, by leaving out a fourth name, that of Rosalind Franklin, whose contribution to the discovery of the double helix was equal to, and possibly greater than, that of Watson, Crick or Wilkins, although Watson and Crick were instrumental in identifying the operation of base pairs in DNA.

Rosalind Franklin, born in 1920 in London, graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge in 1941, but was granted a titular degree, as at that time women were not granted full degrees by Cambridge. During World War II Franklin performed cutting edge research on coal and high strength carbon fibers in support of the war effort. In 1945 she was awarded her PhD in physical chemistry from Kings College, Cambridge and joined the faculty, where she became a member of a group working on DNA research. There she encountered Maurice Wilkins, who subsequently was assigned the work on the B form of DNA while Franklin directed the effort on the A form of DNA. Drs. Wilkins and Franklin had very different personalities. Some professional antipathy developed between the two of them.

Dr. Franklin did significant work with x-ray defraction. She took many photographs using this technology that essentially verified the double helix structure of DNA (there had been alternative theories, such as one developed by Linus Pauling, who thought that DNA must be a triple helix). One of the great controversies in modern science is centered on these photos. Photo 51, described as, "amongst the most beautiful x-ray photographs of any substance ever taken," was shown by Wilkins to James Watson without Franklin's knowledge or consent. Max Perutz, Crick's thesis advisor, showed Crick a report containing calculations by Franklin, also without her knowledge or consent. On one hand, Dr. Franklin was in the process of moving from Kings College to another university, while her research belonged to Kings College. On the other hand, the crucial role played by Franklin's research is undeniable. "The instant I saw the picture," Watson was to write many years later, "my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race..."

In a tale reminiscent of Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray both filing patent applications for the telephone on the exact same day in 1876, Dr. Franklin submitted two papers on the general structure of DNA on March 6, 1953 to a major scientific journal in Denmark, just one day before Watson and Crick completed their model. Watson and Crick published a full description of their model in Nature on April 23, 1953. In many respects, Dr. Franklin was a victim of her own meticulous nature. She felt that more research was required to confirm the data, which lead to one heated exchange between Watson and Franklin in which he told her that she did not know how to interpret her own data. In 1953, Franklin went on with her plans to leave Cambridge and went on to work on the tobacco mosaic and on polio viruses and other path breaking work that laid the foundation of structural virology before her untimely death in 1958. Since the Nobel Prize cannot be given posthumously, we will never know whether she would have been recognized with the Nobel prize along with Watson, Wilkins and Crick in 1962, but it appears doubtful since she stopped working on DNA after she left Cambridge.

In 1998, the National Portrait Gallery placed a portrait of Franklin along side those of Drs. Watson, Crick and Wilkins. In 2002, the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute created the "Rosalind E. Franklin Award for Women in Science" and in 2008 Columbia University posthumously granted her the Horowitz Prize in honor of her "seminal contribution to the structure of DNA." Numerous buildings and gardens have been named for Dr. Franklin around the world, but her greatest legacy remains her groundbreaking scientific work.

Copyright 2009 Genetics & IVF Institute