- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

COVINGTON, La. (AP) — Glen and Rebekah Markham are taken aback by the worldwide publicity surrounding their child, scheduled to arrive by Caesarean section tomorrow.

Reporters from as far away as Singapore are enthralled with the story of officers using flat-bottomed boats to rescue the child’s frozen embryo from a sweltering hospital in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The couple expected that the story might show up in a local newspaper and provide a page for the baby’s scrapbook.

“We never expected this much attention,” Mrs. Markham said yesterday.

The publicity has put them back in touch with childhood friends and neighbors. It also has made it harder to get ready for the baby — preparations further hampered by the fact that Mr. Markham can’t lift much of anything just now, or even install the baby car seat.

Mr. Markham, a New Orleans police officer, has been on disability since Dec. 3 when he wrenched his back wrestling a wanted man to the ground.

“We haven’t even picked out a name yet,” Mrs. Markham said.

That is not because of a shortage of suggestions. They have ruled out Katrina, but friends and co-workers have suggested storm-related names, including Harry Cane for a boy and Cat Five for a girl.

Her husband’s choices include Duke and Nitro.

“I said, ‘I think that is a wrestler,’ ” Mrs. Markham said.

“Nitro could be liquid nitrogen, because that’s what saved him,” Mr. Markham said. “For a girl, I like Breeze.”

When the storm hit, Mr. Markham was assigned to the west bank of New Orleans, which didn’t flood. Most of his time in the next weeks was spent preventing looting and catching looters.

But the five frozen embryos that held the couple’s chance to give their son, Witt, a brother or sister were at a hospital in eastern New Orleans, which sustained some of the worst flooding.

Weeks after the storm, Mrs. Markham was afraid her embryos were gone. The embryos were among 1,400 frozen in canisters of liquid nitrogen at a hospital that housed one of the two labs for the Fertility Institute, the clinic that helped the Markhams create Witt.

The canisters can keep their contents frozen for weeks — but they are designed for use in an air-conditioned room, not a building where temperatures were soaring into the 100s during a hot September without electricity.

Dr. Belinda “Sissy” Sartor helped lead a rescue expedition with officers from the Louisiana State Police and the Illinois Conservation Police, who were brought in because they had flat-bottomed boats. The officers plan to send the Markhams baby presents, said Illinois Conservation Police Lt. Eric Bumgarner.

The Markhams’ relief at learning the embryos were safe was far more than just knowing that they wouldn’t have to pay another $12,000 for a second round of in-vitro fertilization.

“We see our little boy — we see what the potential of those little embryos is,” Mrs. Markham said. “It meant more to us than a few cells frozen in a hospital.”

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