You’ve probably heard about the recent malfunction at a fertility clinic in Cleveland. Due to a storage tank failure, some 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos have been lost at the University Hospitals Fertility Center .
In a crushing blow, the hospital notified nearly 1,000 patients that it’s unlikely that any of the eggs or embryos are viable.
But one Jewish mom-of-two, Niki Schaefer, who has been through fertility treatments herself, is trying to help families whose dreams of having a baby may have ended as a result of the malfunction.
Schaefer — whose children Noah, 8, and Lane, 6, were conceived after several cycles of fertility treatments — is donating her four remaining embryos. And she’s encouraging others to do the same.
Schafer, 37, a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio, explained why helping is important to her:
It feels good to give back to a community that really is a part of who we are. I think we define ourselves by having gone through that experience of infertility and really empathize with that whole world.
This isn’t the first time Schaefer has helped the infertility community; she volunteers and works events with UH’s Partnership for Families, a charity that funds fertility treatments for those who can’t afford them.
In-vitro fertilization costs an estimated $12,000 to $15,000 — and that’s regardless of whether it works or not. Due to the massive expense, most couples don’t have many chances at treatment, unless they’re extremely wealthy.
That’s just part of what motivated her to make the donation — even if it’s difficult to come to terms knowing she won’t have any more biological children of her own. As she said in a Facebook post:
IVF is incredibly taxing on your body, your mind and your bank account. It is a very isolating and anxiety-provoking time in peoples’ lives.
I thought I would eventually donate them to research because I couldn’t mentally handle the thought of Noah and Lane’s formerly frozen siblings being on this earth and not knowing them. The unfortunate events that compromised the frozen embryos at the UH Fertility Center changed my mind.
Another Orthodox Jewish couple, who are remaining anonymous, are following in Schaefer’s footsteps. The couple — who also had two children via IVF — are donating extra embryos they’d like to go to a Northeast Ohio Jewish family affected by the freezer malfunction.