Jonathan and Alex, twins conceived
with the help of a Jewish egg donor
New egg-freezing technology assists
infertile couples at Michigan Egg Bank.
JN Contributing Writer
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t didn't come wrapped in festive
paper or tied with a fancy bow. In
fact, the greatest gift a Huntington
Woods couple in their 40s ever received
is not even visible to the human eye.
Suzanne and her husband, Sam, who
requested their last name not be used,
have an anonymous Jewish egg donor
to thank for helping create their twin
sons, Jonathan and Alex, now 5.
The couple traveled to New York City
and selected the donor from an agency
when other infertility treatments were
unsuccessful. Suzanne has polycystic
ovarian syndrome, a common hor-
monal disorder that can cause cysts
on the ovaries and difficulty becoming
pregnant. According to the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, one
in eight couples — more than 7 million
people — will have trouble conceiving
"I wanted to find [a donor] I could
relate to and that's why we went to a
Jewish agency' Suzanne recalls. "At first,
I was looking for someone who looked
like me. But then we printed the profiles
of all the potential donors and I saw
one and said, `I love this girl: I liked the
way she answered the questions about
her favorite holiday, favorite childhood
memories and the things that were
important to her. She looked nothing
like me, but she was available when we
were available and we decided to do it:'
The couple has the young woman's
photo and her medical history, but they
only know her first name. The donor
had to pass health and psychological
screenings, give herself about a dozen
shots of fertility drugs, and undergo
a minor surgical procedure to harvest
and remove her eggs. Then, medical
technologists (known as embryolo-
gists) combined the eggs with Sam's
sperm to create embryos. Those
embryos were implanted, and Suzanne
became pregnant on the first try. She
carried and delivered the twins who
were born in 2007. The procedure and
donor fee cost the couple thousands of
"Before we tried this, we went
through multiple miscarriages and
other failed procedures',' Suzanne said.
"I'm eternally grateful to our donor. I
wish she could see the boys because
they're so beautiful and I'm so proud to
be their mom. I wish she could know
what she helped to create:'
Suzanne and Sam are patients of Dr.
Michael Mersol-Barg, a (Jewish) repro-
ductive endocrinologist who serves
as Medical and Laboratory Director
at the Birmingham-based Center
Medicine & Surgery.
He's also the founder
of the Michigan Egg
Bank. The facility,
established in 2008,
is the only egg bank
in Michigan and one
of only a handful
the country that
stores donor eggs.
While Suzanne and Sam used
"fresh" eggs for their procedure, the
egg bank also offers frozen eggs, a
relatively new option. Lab techni-
cians use liquid nitrogen to freeze the
microscopic eggs at -300 degrees or
more. They can be stored for several
years. When a patient is ready to use
them, they're thawed, fertilized and
"This is revolutionary. This is a game
changer," Mersol-Barg says. "As much as