GBMC celebrates 9 years of in vitro fertilization Test-tube babies attend reunion

September 27, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

There was no shortage of triplets, teddy bears or diapers at Greater Baltimore Medical Center yesterday as nearly 500 test-tube children and their proud parents returned for a reunion.

Mothers reminisced as they cradled newborns in their arms. Toddlers crawled through a maze of strollers. Grinning fathers jostled elbows and held aloft their children for a Life magazine photo.

"You can see here that the stigma of being a test-tube baby has disappeared," said Dr. Jairo E. Garcia, director of the Women's Hospital Fertility Center, which was celebrating the birth of more than 1,000 babies through its in vitro program.

Only a decade ago, the procedure in which eggs are retrieved from a woman's ovaries, mixed with sperm in a laboratory dish and reimplanted in the woman's uterus was uncommon and controversial.

Today, it's become an increasingly popular option for couples who have exhausted other possibilities in their quest to have children.

"Without this, I would still be home crying," said Susan Blanton, a 34-year-old from Ellicott City who is now the mother of triplets -- Cody, Chelsea and Matthew.

Mrs. Blanton recalled the anguish of trying for eight years to have children with her husband, Joe. She survived two tubal preg

nancies before the in vitro program brought her triplets 10 months ago.

"This is modern science, but it's a miracle nonetheless," she said.

In the last nine years, 1,051 test-tube babies have been born at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which calls itself one of the top three programs in the nation.

About half of the children, ranging in age from a few months to 8 years, celebrated with cake and formula yesterday. Twins and triplets in matching outfits abounded.

Nearly a third of the women who participated in the in vitro program used to have multiple births because as many as 20 embryos would be implanted at once, Dr. Garcia said. GBMC's test-tube baby program has had 78 sets of twins, 17 sets of triplets and one set of quadruplets.

Doctors now recommend that women only have a couple of embryos implanted at once. The others are frozen for future use.

The program still has some drawbacks. Only about 20 percent of women are impregnated on their first try, and insurance companies don't always cover the procedure, which can cost about $8,500.

But for parents like Anne Conway, the results are priceless. Mrs. Conway, 37, a physical therapist from College Park, tried fertility drugs and other programs for six years before resorting to in vitro fertilization. She got pregnant on the first attempt.

"He started walking at seven months," she said as her tow-headed son, James, climbed over a jungle gym at the medical center. "There's no question it was worth it."

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