A newspaper ad published in Sunday’s Arizona Republic urged sperm and egg donors to claim their unused specimens stored at the Arizona Institute of Reproductive Medicine.
Dr. Robert Tamis plans on closing the clinic upon his retirement later this month. If donors are not found or contacted before then, “all unclaimed specimens will be destroyed as of July 15th, 1999.” Patients who choose to claim unused embyros, sperm, or eggs will have three choices: implant the embryos within the next six months, transfer them into storage at another clinic, or have them destroyed. Currently, 50 patients have at least 16 embryos each in storage.
Approximately 75 sperm samples also remain in storage. In 1997, an ethics panel of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine decided that, if embryos went unclaimed for a period of five years, clinics had the right to destroy them. Although there is no previous decision related to Tamis’ clinic, workers believe that they have no other choice if the donors are not found. According to patient coordinator Kathy Fink, “People don’t stick around.”