Westmont Magazine A Fertile Practice
The first time Michael Witt ’80 sees a patient, the meeting may be tense and emotionally painful. A specialist in male infertility, he represents the last hope for men who’ve been told they may never have a child. More than 60 percent of the time, Michael can fix the problem, and his reward is a birth announcement in the mail or a visit from the parents and new baby.
“New diagnostic techniques as well as in vitro fertilization can help a lot of men who were previously untreatable,” Michael says. He works at Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, which specializes in in vitro fertilization. He also associates with several hospitals, and he contributes numerous chapters and articles to books and journals devoted to infertility.
While medical technology is challenging enough, the ethical issues involved in his practice can be quite complex. “I spend a lot of time educating my patients,” Michael says. “Some people are unaware, and some are misinformed. It all comes down to to helping couples make an informed decision. The people who have a higher view of when life begins have to think through the ramifications of their decisions. What happens to the unused embryos? Do they destroy them? Transfer them to someone else? Donate them for research? Leave them frozen indefinitely? Many couples think only about having a baby. I need to make sure my patients don’t end up in a situation they didn’t anticipate.”
The son, grandson and nephew of physicians, Michael found that God kept opening doors to a medical career. After graduating from Westmont with a degree in biology, he went to Oregon Health Sciences University and did his residency at Boston University Hospital in general surgery and urology. He completed a fellowship in male infertility at Baylor College of Medicine 1990-91 and has specialized in this field since 1991.
Westmont is another family tradition; his parents, Albert ’54 and Marliss Lockwood ’54 Witt, his sisters and brother-in-law, Michelle Witt ’82 and Steven ’80 and Melissa Witt ’80 Phillips, his brother, Morgan Witt ’86, and his uncles, Larry ’61, Darrell ’64 and Daniel ’70 Lockwood, are all alumni. His niece, Alaina Phillips, is a Westmont student.
“My folks lived and breathed Westmont even before it was what it is today,” he says. “The professors were great models of faith and learning — I didn’t realize how good it was while I was there. The liberal arts aspect was more valuable than I realized as a science major. The highlight of my senior year was a Shakespeare class, and what I learned there I have never stopped using. I would not have taken that class if I had not been at a liberal arts college.”
Michael knows the rewards of being a father; he and his wife, Kirsten, have four children, 14, 13, 11 and 10 months. The kids and the practice take up most of his time, but he competes in marathons and triathlons whenever he can, and he’s involved in Intown Community Church with his family.
Treating infertility can be a frustrating and painful process, but Michael tries to put it into context for his patients. “I tell them this is only the beginning and will prepare them for the challenges they will face in raising a child,” he says.