Switched at Conception
'I question everything'
Success rates tell the tale continued...
"People always think they are going to be in that 20-30%
that gets a baby, not in the 70-80% group that fails. I would tell people to go
in expecting that it won't work, and then if it does, it's a miracle."
Gora became depressed, and her marriage faltered. The stress
caused by the invasive and intense treatments, and then by the letdown of her
negative pregnancy tests, was more than she or her husband expected, she says,
and they divorced. For the next two years, she made payments on the $8,000
credit card debt she had incurred to pay for the procedures. "That was
torture. Every month, that bill was a reminder." After the bills were paid,
she destroyed every document, check stub, and record that reminded her of the
treatment, and tried to put the episode behind her.
Then the egg scandal broke.
The handling of eggs and embryos
In 1994, whistleblowers from the Irvine clinic alerted the
university that the clinic's doctors allegedly were underreporting their
income, importing fertility drugs not FDA-approved, and transplanting stored
eggs into patients without consent from the donors. Gora's mother heard about
it and urged her daughter to contact the clinic. "I told her I never wanted
to see or talk to any of those people again, but if she wanted to call that
would be fine with me," Gora says. So her mother contacted Blum.
At the time, there was no evidence that any of Gora's
unfertilized eggs had been used. Then, last year, Blum finally gained access to
the documents that tracked the handling of fertilized eggs, or
embryos.Â She contacted Gora, and together they looked at the records.
Tacked onto the back of Gora's chart was a woman's name. Next
to the name were some numbers -- the same numbers that had been assigned to the
embryos Gora had been told were dead. To Blum, the records indicated that
hundreds of couples had been similarly affected.
"Now I question everything about it - I'm not even sure
that they ever implanted embryos in me at all," Gora says. "Maybe they
thought I was young, I'd have other chances. I feel that every one of my
embryos that was given to someone else was a chance to have a baby that was
stolen from me."
The woman who received Gora's embryos has a common name in
South America, with no address or contact information listed. Gora has little
hope that she will ever find out whether the woman had a child with her