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TV REVIEW : ‘KCET Journal’ Examines Search for Infertility Cure

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It can “destroy youth and the good times of life”--it is seen by some as an invisible physical handicap, an embittering failure, a shameful secret. “It” is infertility, and for many couples the search for a cure comes close to grim addiction.

Written and produced by Emmy-winning Nancy Salter, narrated by actress Kate Mulgrew, tonight’s “KCET Journal” on “Expecting Miracles,” airing at 9 p.m. on Channel 28, intimately covers three years in the lives of four couples struggling to conceive.

We get facts--infertility affects 2 million to 3 million American couples, and male infertility, often baffling to researchers, is now believed to be responsible in half the cases. Even innocuous hot baths and Jacuzzis, according to one specialist, can “wipe out” fertility in men for months.

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We see graphic close-ups of corrective surgery--not a pretty sight--to remove uterine tumors and scrotal varicose veins and we are shown in vitro fertilization techniques: the aspiration of ova and the implantation of four-celled embryos into the womb.

And, over and over, we see and hear about the disappointment of each failed treatment.

By the time the hourlong program ends, the viewer has been given a vivid feel for the grinding, emotional exhaustion of this all-consuming fertility quest.

Yes, the question of adoption does come up. In fact, three of the couples do adopt. One husband who said he felt an aching “incompleteness” in not being able to father a child found the pleasure of parenting his adopted baby daughter unexpectedly comforting.

Although this year marks the 10th birthday of the first “test-tube” baby, the new technology, expensive and time-consuming, still means hope for only about half of all infertile couples.

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