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“Embryo donation is not for everybody. But it is suitable for more people than is realized..." Susan's Story
Every day thousands of people struggling with infertility log on to message boards to get and give advice, make connections, and chat with others who can understand and sympathize with their feelings. When Susan Lindeman went online in the summer of 2002, however, she had no idea she would be changing her life forever or that she also would be so instrumental in changing the lives of several other couples.
Susan and her husband, Bruce, from Richmond, VA, had endured seven years of unsuccessful infertility treatment and were prepared to adopt on the day Susan saw a post on an IVF message board from Glenda Lyons, a Wisconsin woman who wanted to donate her embryos. After several introductory emails where the two women got to know each other, the Lyonses chose to give their 14 remaining frozen embryos to the Lindemans. Having decided their family was complete with son Matthew and twins Mitchell and Samantha and understanding the pain of infertility, the Lyonses strongly felt the need to give their additional embryos to a couple with “empty arms” who could possibly make them into children. They also did not want to donate anonymously, hoping to find individuals who were “their type of people,” though they did not want to become part of the future family’s life. Glenda Lyons instinctively knew she had found that match with Susan and Bruce Lindeman, whose embryo transfer with three frozen embryo resulted in the birth of their twins, Jack and Chase Lindeman.
Paying It Forward: Part I
During the Lindeman’s cycle, three embryos did not survive the thawing process, which left eight embryos to donate. Though the Lindemans had the legal right to choose who would become the next recipients of the embryos, Susan wanted Glenda as her partner in making the selection. Again using an online message board, Susan and Glenda found the MacMillans, a California couple with whom they both personally connected and whose doctor used four embryos in the transfer. The MacMillans too were successful and are now the parents of twin girls Chloe and Annabelle. The three mothers then collaborated on finding the Texas couple who received the four remaining embryos. Unfortunately that couple’s transfer did not end in a successful pregnancy.
Paying It Forward: Part II
Susan and Bruce’s Lindeman’s profile really is about all three families’ willingness to take a leap of faith and create new types of familial bonds, friendships, and intimate connections. It is about traveling down a path together that not that many other people have taken.
“Embryo donation is not for everybody,” says Susan. “But it is suitable for more people than is realized. Probably the most important step potential donors and recipients can take is getting information about what embryo donation entails for both parties.” Susan will be helping out in the educational process when she speaks at the McLean, VA, workshops on embryo donation on Saturday, September 12. She will be able to tell her own story and answer questions about the realities of embryo donation. She will continue to do what she does really well: give back and pay her gifts forward.
Many of the details in this story come from the Good Housekeeping article “Siblings of a Sort” written by Amanda Robb and published in March 2009.