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Assisted Reproduction

Park Cities People Does Puff Piece on Patterson & Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas

I just read the Park Cities People (PCP) article on Merritt Patterson and Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas that one of our readers kindly forwarded to me as PCP elected not to post the story or any excerpts online. You may remember, this was the investigative report that the Park Cities editor, Dan Koller, had promised to, “name our sources, we will give everyone involved ample time to respond, and we won’t ambush anyone with a camera as they leave home to pick up their kids.” Before the story was even published, Koller was backtracking on naming sources but nevertheless promised “a more complete, balanced story — on Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas.” Unfortunately, these promises were not kept as the report was neither complete nor balanced despite what appears to have been the best intentions of the reporter, Brad Pearson.

First and foremost, the article completely fails to explain the delays by Patterson and SPCT in paying their egg donors for completed cycles. Having specialized in this area of law for 17 years and having had the good fortune of working on more than 8,000 reproductive arrangements over that time, I have never participated in a case where an egg donor or surrogate’s fee was not deposited in an account prior to the egg retrieval or embryo transfer (in almost every situation the compensation and anticipated costs are required to be deposited into a trust or escrow account prior to the donor commencing her medication protocol). Moreover, I am unaware of any attorney representing a surrogate or egg donor who would ever clear their client to proceed with a transfer or retrieval without assurances that the account was fully funded. Further, I cannot imagine a single egg donor agreeing to proceed with a cycle if she knew that SPCT failed to collect her fees before she began taking her injections – which would be weeks before the actual aspiration.

Typically, an egg donor will receive her compensation within seven days of the aspiration. So it is extremely puzzling that the PCP article utterly fails to address the admitted delays by Patterson in compensating her donors. Either the funds deposited by these Intended Parents for the benefit of their egg donors are no longer in the account or Patterson failed to collect them. If the former, a criminal investigation ought to be launched to determine the whereabouts of those funds. If the latter, a number of egg donors will likely have fraud claims against SPCT. Edward Morrow is probably rolling over in his grave right now over the failure of PCP to confront Patterson on the most serious allegation against her and SPCT.

There are a number of other glaring inconsistencies and omissions in the PCP article which I will address in another post. However, for the time being, I would hope that Mr. Pearson confronts Patterson and demands she answer the following questions:

  • Did any SPCT egg donors undergo retrievals without their compensation having been collected up-front?
  • For any case in which the donor’s fee was not collected prior to the commencement of the medication cycle, was the egg donor, her attorney and the medical facility made aware of this fact in writing?
  • If SPCT followed industry protocols and collected the egg donor’s compensation and anticipated costs in advance, why does it need until March 31st to release these payments?
  • Did SPCT follow all ASRM Ethics and Practice guidelines?
    Hopefully Mr. Pearson will ask these questions and Park Cities Papers will have the journalistic integrity to print a follow-up report.


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