As reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, June 29, 2008.

Family Gives Life With Embryo Donation

By Kristi L. Nelson

Patricia Steffany-Cassidy remembers well her struggles to have her three boys, now 11, 7 and 3.

Months after they were married, her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Knowing the treatment had a high risk of leaving him sterile, the Connecticut couple banked his sperm for later use.

But when they decided to start a family, artificial insemination wasn't successful. Steffany-Cassidy learned that she had her own fertility issues.

Luckily, they lived close to the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at the University of Connecticut Health Center, one of the first centers to do intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg before it's transferred back to the mother's uterus.

ICSI, as it's called, worked for the couple, but not without cost. Steffany-Cassidy lost several pregnancies in between. When they decided their family was complete, after the birth of their third son, Steffany-Cassidy said she didn't want to destroy the embryos or donate them for medical research. She was thrilled to learn that embryo adoption was an option.

"All the heartaches we went through, I can remember saying, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone would just give us an embryo?' " she said. "It was nice to be able to do that wonderful thing for somebody."

The family opted for an open adoption, meaning the adoptive family could contact them at any time. Steffany-Cassidy said their main reasoning was that the adoptive family might need medical information.

"Or what if they needed something like a kidney or something we could do to help them?" she said. "I would feel terrible if they couldn't find us."

How much contact they will have with the Baileys, who are the first to adopt their embryos, will be up to them, she said. "I think (Marti Bailey) has been more than generous with her time."

Steffany-Cassidy said Bailey kept her updated throughout the pregnancy and birth and sent pictures of the babies, who look like their biological siblings.

"My 3-year-old is always asking, 'Can I see the babies?' " she said. Friends and family, too, have been interested in seeing the pictures.

"Everybody here is so happy for them," she said. "I couldn't have picked a better donor. They seem like a wonderful family."

And it's not lost on Steffany-Cassidy that her story and Bailey's are a lot alike.

"If it had gone easily for us, I don't know if I would have decided the same," she said. "I don't know."