Where Can Discarded Embryos Go?

TGCvocations with Dr. Jeffrey Keenan
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Dr. Jeffrey Keenan is president and medical director of the National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian non-profit in Knoxville, Tennessee, dedicated to protecting the lives and dignity of human embryos by promoting, facilitating, and educating about embryo donation and embryo adoption.


How would you describe your work?

The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), of which I’m privileged to be a part, is a ministry that emphasizes the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception. We accept embryos remaining from in vitro fertilization (IVF) from around the country and then allow those embryos the chance to be adopted and hopefully carried to term. I perform the frozen embryo transfers (FETs) and help oversee the governance of the organization.

As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?

We are all made in God’s image and, whether we’re embryos or aged and on life support, we are still treasured in his eyes. The NEDC allows me and our team to prove that human embryos are not just masses of cells, but human life. However, we are also helping fulfill the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” since most of the couples who adopt embryos through us could not bear children without these precious gifts.

How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?

It is tragic that so many human embryos are discarded without being given the chance to live out a normal human lifespan. The NEDC was formed in 2003 for the purpose of stepping into this brokenness, and by God’s grace we are making a difference. We have assisted in more than 600 births. Those are 600-plus children who otherwise would not have been given a chance at life outside the womb.

Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?

We serve not only the recipients (our in-house name for adopting families), but also serve as a solution for couples struggling with the dilemma of unused embryos. Further, we serve as a voice of reason in a field where traditional Christian morality has largely died.


Editors’ note: TGCvocations is a weekly column that asks practitioners how they integrate their faith and their work. Interviews are condensed and edited.

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