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Would you be willing to take a plethora of drugs that may promote the growth of a fatal cancer later in life? Would you be willing to carry and birth high-order multiples? Even if it was at great risk to the babies’ health, your own health, and their future growth and development? What would you not be willing to do to have a child?

On Wednesday, a co-worker read me the brief article, “Quintuplets Born to Houston Woman.” Its title is self-explanatory and the proud parents are Veronica Mayorga-Real and Enrique Mayorga. My initial reaction was amazement. I could never imagine going from a family of three (as was their situation) to a family of eight. Yikes! But, as every infertile knows, high-order multiples do happen. The article concluded:

Mayorga-Real and her husband, Enrique Mayorga, were using fertility drugs.

There was no mention of the drugs being used in conjunction with an IVF or IUI procedure. In fact, this short sentence led me to believe a doctor tossed some drugs at her and said, “Go for it.”

I perused the comments to see if others may have noticed the significance of the otherwise benign statement. Most commentators were concerned about how the Mayorgas planned on paying their hospital bills and caring for the children. And a few assumed she had undergone IVF. Others were just thankful the children were born healthy…if that is what anyone can truly call one- to two-pound premies. One responder, a Vanessa, claimed to be a relative, and was extremely defensive. In her responses she revealed the following:

  • Mayorga-Real was taking fertility treatments to induce ovulation and not in conjunction with any fertility procedures.
  • Twins run in both sides of the family.

All of this perturbed me. Most, and I would argue the good, fertility doctors would prescribe ovulation inducing medications to a woman and insist she come in for regular monitoring. When a woman is taking fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries, she is at risk for developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and ovulating so many eggs she would be more likely to conceive high-order multiples. Taking this into consideration as well as her family’s history of multiples, I would think a doctor would have been especially diligent to ensure Mayorga-Real only ovulated one to two eggs. But, it doesn’t seem like any of this was the case. Why not?

Vanessa accused the more critical commentators of being ignorant, because they assumed a doctor “put back” too many embryos. That situation, albeit (dare I say) unethical, would have been deliberate—a purposful act. It seems to me more ignorant and even more unethical that neither the doctor nor the mother cared to approach her fertility with enough caution and forethought to prevent (or at least minimize) her chances of conceiving multiples. It was essentially left to fate.

Today’s fertility drugs and procedures are a modern miracle. They have given hope to so many of us who would have been otherwise hopeless. But, we must be conscientious, thoughtful participants in any treatment we pursue. We owe it to our future children.