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On food stamps, octuplets' mom won't go on welfare, publicist says

LOS ANGELES — Nadya Suleman told NBC that she sought treatment at a Beverly Hills clinic for all of her in vitro fertilization procedures, including the one that resulted in the birth of octuplets Jan. 26.

She also told NBC that she does not intend to go on welfare, though her publicist confirmed Monday that Suleman already receives food stamps and child disability payments to help feed and care for her six other young children. She receives $490 a month in food stamps, publicist Mike Furtney said. He said Suleman did not want to disclose the nature of her children's disabilities or the nature of those payments.

"In her view these are just payments made for people with legitimate needs and are not, in her view, welfare," Furtney said.

Suleman, 33, told NBC's Today she was "fixated" on having children. She has come under fire for keeping all the pregnancies when she already had six children. She is single and unemployed and lives with her mother.

Suleman said she went to West Coast IVF Clinic headed by Michael Kamrava. He describes himself on his Web site as "an internationally recognized leader in the field of in vitro fertilization" who has helped pioneer "breakthrough technology that revolutionized IVF, reducing risks to both the mother and child."

His clinics performed 20 in vitro procedures in 2006 on women under 35, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Of those procedures, four resulted in pregnancies and only two resulted in birth. His pregnancy rate and live birth rate are far below average.

The average number of embryos he transferred per procedure — 3.5 — was among the highest in the country for women under 35. Fertility specialists say a high number of embryo transfers usually reflects a patient population with an especially poor prognosis or problems with the laboratory.

Medical guidelines established by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommend transferring no more than two embryos per procedure in women under 35 except in "extraordinary circumstances."

Some fertility specialists said Kamrava is a controversial figure. Dr. John Jain, founder of Santa Monica Fertility Specialists, criticized the decision to implant so many embryos, saying Kamrava, 57, "really stepped outside the guidelines in a very extreme manner, and as such, put both the mother and children at extra high risk of disability and even death."

Kamrava would not comment.

In vitro costs $8,000 to $15,000. Asked on NBC how she could afford it, Suleman said she had saved money and used some of the more than $165,000 in disability payments she received after being injured in a 1999 riot at a hospital where she worked.

On food stamps, octuplets' mom won't go on welfare, publicist says 02/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 11:31pm]
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