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Australians Establishing Test-Tube Fertilization Clinics in U.S.

January 30, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ An Australian venture plans to put its nation’s research in test-tube fertilization to work in the United States by opening clinics near New York and in Birmingham, Ala, a company official says.

″The proving ground is Australia ... No technology will be brought here until it’s throroughly proven,″ said Robert Moses, managing director of IVF Australia Pty. Ltd. and president of its Connecticut-based subsidiary, IVF Australia (U.S.A.) Ltd.

The subsidiary has begun a program for test-tube fertilizations, called in- vitro fertilizations, at United Hospital in Port Chester, N.Y., and plans to open another in Birmingham in a few months, Moses said Wednesday. More will follow elsewhere, he said.

The company is working with researcher Alan Trounson and his colleagues from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. They will act as consultants, conduct training and fill key positions at the New York program, the company said.

Plans for the New York program, scheduled to begin fertilization procedures in mid-March, would make it the largest in the nation in terms of total number of pregnancy attempts per year.

The program will provide about 1,000 treatment ″cycles,″ or pregnancy attempts, a year, said Dr. John Stangel, the clinical director. That translates to about 300 to 500 couples a year, said Dr. Kathryn Honea, medical director of IVF Australia (U.S.A.).

The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk now provides about 500 cycles a year, the most in the United States, Dr. Howard Jones, its president, said in a telephone interview.

In-vitro fertilization is offered by 129 programs in the United States, according to the American Fertility Society.

At the New York program, about one in five women is expected to get pregnant in each treatment cycle, Honea said. It will take up to four cycles to produce a birth in about half the patients, said Patricia Honea-Fleming, chief psychologist for IVF Australia (U.S.A.)

The treatment involves removing eggs from the ovary, fertilizing them in the laboratory and placing three of four resulting embryos in the uterus. In some cases, unused embryos will be frozen for later use if needed, Honea said. Cost will be $5,700 per cycle if the eggs are removed through standard surgery, or $4,700 per cycle if an alternate removal procedure is used, Honea said. A $2,800 fee will be charged for implanting embryos that had been removed and frozen.

Few insurance companies pay for test-tube fertilization, said Margaret Einhorn of Resolve Inc., a national infertility support group. Jones, of the Virginia clinic, said his program costs about $4,700 per cycle with standard egg-removal surgery.

Honea said no frozen embryos at the IVF Australia program would be destroyed or used in research. Patients who choose to have unused embryos frozen will have to use them for later pregnancy attempts or donate them anonymously to an infertile couple, she said.

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