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THE SUNDAY PROFILE : A Priceless Possibility : Dr. Mark Sauer gives women in their 40s and 50s the hope of becoming moms. But critics say he's creating a generation of 'Medicare orphans.'

March 19, 1995|KATHLEEN DOHENY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

He also donates heavily to his church. After some shopping around for a denomination in his teens, he settled on becoming a "convenient" Catholic. "If I was a practicing Catholic, I couldn't do what I do (in infertility)," he says. "When I need to go to church, I go to church. When I need to talk to a priest, I talk to a priest."

Separating church and work, he says, is no problem: "I have absolutely no ethical dilemmas about what I do."

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Now that he's proved that menopause and motherhood can mix, Sauer is working on the next advance in IVF--egg banking. "You can't at this point successfully freeze human eggs," he says. "We're dabbling in it."

He believes the practice will initially be offered to women facing ovarian failure, such as those scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. He predicts that oncologists, who understandably tend to focus on eradicating cancer rather than on preserving fertility, will be hearing from patients as soon as freezing is feasible.

As Sauer has learned, nothing matches the mettle of a woman intent on having a child. Twenty years from now, he dreams of conducting and publishing a follow-up study on the offspring of menopausal moms.

His prediction for its conclusion?

"Look at these children. They did great."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Dr. Mark V. Sauer Age: 40.

Native?: No; born in Cedar Falls, Iowa; raised "all over the Midwest"; lives in the South Bay.

Family: Separated. Three children--Julie, 11; Christopher, 8, and Jeffery, almost 4.

Passions: Work, Rams and Raiders games, the kids' sporting events, animals.

Weak spots: Chocolate chip cookies, on-again/off-again exercise. ("I'd like to think that I still have a six-minute mile in me.")

On his increasing notoriety: "You can say to a taxicab driver, 'Have you ever heard of a 50-year-old having a baby?' And he probably has. The idea of grandmas having babies is so interesting to everyone."

On the backlash against egg donation: "I transplant human embryos. People don't say to heart surgeons, 'You're evil for performing heart transplants.' "

On his long hours on the job: "I don't think of it as work."

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