Madeleine Gordon, affectionately known as Mady, is a beacon of warmth and kindness as she welcomes guests of all ages to a special gathering.
From the youngest infants to young adults, Mady greets each person with genuine joy
To a little girl, she says, “Hi sweetheart.”
To a teenage boy, she exclaims, “You’ve grown so tall!”
To the parents of an infant, she admires, “Isn’t she beautiful?”
To everyone present, she expresses, “I’m so glad you are here!”
On a sunny Sunday in August, families gathered at the Transept in Over-the-Rhine for such. special occasion filled with photographs ice cream social. While
Mady is grateful for the presence of all the families, her heart is particularly gladdened by the fact that these guests are alive and thriving in this world
Without Mady Gordon, 88 individuals may not have had the opportunity to exist.
Nearly three decades ago, Mady and her husband established a nonprofit organization to assist infertile couples in the Cincinnati area who demonstrated financial need with the costs of IVF.
Every two years, Mady brings together the individuals who were born with the help of the Madeleine Gordon Gift of Life Foundation
“When I enter that room,” shares 78-year-old Mady, “I have to hold back tears. It takes my breath away. It’s the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Mady’s personal journey fuels the mission of the Gift of Life foundation
For 15 years, Mady and her husband struggled to conceive. “It was something I yearned for deeply,” she reflects. Previously, Mady worked as a Realtor and specialized in properties with stunning river views, much like the one she currently enjoys from her home on the edge of Eden Park. Prior to that, she was a dedicated high school literature teacher.
When traditional methods proved unsuccessful, Mady and her husband sought help from local infertility experts
Still facing challenges, they used their financial resources to consult renowned specialists on the East and West coasts.
Following strict instructions, Mady diligently administered fertility drugs at the prescribed times. On one occasion, she encountered drug addicts in a restroom at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal who noticed her needle and inquired, “Hey lady, what are you on?”
“I’m trying to have a baby!” she responded.
Unfortunately, her only pregnancy turned out to be ectopic – the fertilized egg was growing outside the uterus – and ended at three months. It was a devastating blow.
“It took two doctors to say, ‘Mady, it’s time for you to stop trying.'”
Approaching the age of 50, Mady listened as her rabbi encouraged people to discover their passion. She contemplated the intense efforts she had made to conceive.
“What if I couldn’t have afforded it?” she ponders in a recent interview. “Wouldn’t it be awful to live your life knowing you could have possibly had a biological child, but you simply couldn’t afford it?”
At her 50th birthday celebration in 1995, she urged her friends to contribute to the newly established Gift of Life Foundation
Even after her divorce from her husband a few years later, she remained dedicated to the cause.
The foundation collaborates with medical providers, including the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the Institute for Reproductive Health, and Bethesda Fertility Center. Married couples are selected based on medical information and financial need. The medical partners write off one-third of the cost of IVF, while the foundation and the couple each contribute one-third.
PATRICK BANFIELD FOR THE ENQUIRER
When Mady founded the Gift of Life, it was the first foundation of its kind
Today, other grant programs exist to assist couples who require financial support for IVF.
“Mady is a visionary,” praises Dr. Michael A. Thomas, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati, and an infertility specialist who has been working with Gordon’s foundation since its inception. “She recognized a need and wanted to address it. She is dedicated to helping individuals have a child – people who would never have had the opportunity without her.”
In the US approximately one in six couples experience infertility, explains Dr. Sherif G. Awadalla, medical director of the Institute for Reproductive Health. Around half of infertile couples require IVF, a process involving the collection of eggs from the ovaries, fertilization in a laboratory, and the subsequent placement of an embryo in the womb for development.
“There is compelling data to show that many infertile couples never seek care due to concerns about affordability and lack of insurance coverage,” Awadalla shares.
Mady’s achievement is incredible and inspirational and has given so many the opportunity of having the families they always dreamed of, but before had always seemed out of reach.