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

January 29, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ An Australian company has established what it plans to make the largest test-tube fertilization program in the United States near New York City, and will open a second clinic in Birmingham, Ala., officials said Wednesday.

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.

IVF Australia (U.S.A.) Ltd. will bring ″the most innovative, the most highly developed (technology) in the world to the United States″ through its link to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said Dr. John Stangel, clinical director of the program being established at United Hospital in Port Chester, N.Y.

The program will not do research, but will continually draw on developments by Monash researchers, including noted in-vitro fertilization researcher Alan Trounson, the company said.

Stangel said the clinic will provide about 1,000 treatment ″cycles,″ or pregnancy attempts, a year. That translates to about 300 to 500 couples a year, said Dr. Kathryn Honea, medical director of IVF Australia.

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

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.

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, $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 will 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.

The IVF Australia program in Birmingham is expected to be established in a couple months, said Robert Moses of the company. More programs are expected elsewhere after that, he said.

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