The first woman to undergo surgery as a patient in the nation's only "test-tube baby" clinic has been told the program can offer her no hope of bearing children, her husband told The Washington Post yesterday.
Jill Schroeder, a 31-year-old Norfolk bookkeeper, was operated on in Norfolk on Sunday, husband Bill Schroeder said, "but everything kind of went wrong."
Schroeder, a civilian auditor for the Navy, said he was told that surgeons from Eastern Virginia Medical School with scar tissue that they could do nothing for her.
"We're out of the program," said Schroeder. "I think she's taking it pretty well to far."
Physicians involved in the program are adhering to a previously announced policy of neither confirming nor denying any attempts that are made.
Had the surgeons succeeded with Jill Schroeder, any baby she bore would not have been what has come to be referred to as a "test-tube baby."
In the "test Tube," or in vitro procedure, surgeons remove an egg from the woman's overy, fertilize it with her husband's sperm in a shallow glass laboratory dish and then return it to her uterus about 36 hours later.
In Jill Schroeder's case, the team had planned to remove an egg from an ovary and then immediately place it in her uterus in the hope that sperm deposited there during intercourse would fertilize the egg.
She was the first of about 35 women scheduled to undergo surgery in the controversial program, which has more than 3,000 applicants. The clinic is opposed by the 2,000-member Tidewater chapter of the Virginia Society for Human Life, an antiabortion organization.
Thus far there have been only six successful attempts at in vitro fertilization, two of which resulted in the births of apparently normal babies in England. Two are reported to have been done in India, and two resulted in miscarriages in Britain.
Physicians say there are between 250,000 and 600,000 women in the United States, unable to conceive because they have irreparably blocked fallopian tubes, and who could benefit from such a procedure.
The Norfolk program apparently was Jill and Bill Schroeder's last hope of having a child of their own. Jill Schroeder had previously undergone unsuccessful surgery, unrelated to the program, to have her fallopian tubes unblocked.
Asked a few weeks ago how she felt she would deal with an unsuccessful attempt at the clinic, Jill Schroeder said, "It's been three year that we've been trying to get pregnant, and three years is a long time to think. If I don't have a child, it will hurt real, real bad, but it's not like it's the end of the world. . . ."