How gung-ho a Bitcoiner is Dr. C. Terence Lee? He’s such a big believer in the digital currency that he was willing to endure some strange looks from patients — and part with 50 percent of his usual fees — to enable a milestone in the Bitcoin economy: the first baby born following fertility treatments paid for with cryptocurrency.
Lee, medical director of the California-based Fertility Care of Orange County, discovered Bitcoin around a year ago and found the community’s enthusiasm appealing. It wasn’t long before he was looking for ways to use it in his own practice. He began making an offer to some of his patients: if they paid with bitcoins, he would offer them a steep discount for their treatment.
The offer didn’t always go over smoothly, as Lee told CNN:
“In some cases they reacted like I said I wanted to be paid in vials of crack cocaine,” he recalls.
Despite such reactions — and the lack of response to the clinic door sign stating his practice accepts bitcoins — Lee pressed on. He eventually found two willing candidates in the form of a couple he’d helped with three previous babies.
A bit of Bitcoin wrangling and nine months later, and the couple had Baby Number Four … a healthy baby girl.
Lee described the whole experience at last month’s Bitcoin 2013 conference in San Jose. He’s also made a point of expressing his gratitude to the family of the baby for agreeing to an arrangement that’s put them in an unusual spotlight.
Just this week, in fact, Lee created a Bitcoin address to collect donations for the family: 1GiXrbFGFGSY8wQ1zDbArJnbgJZJVFNKdW.
“This couple donated their privacy to allow permission to publicly show this photo of their baby,” Lee posted on reddit. “They asked nothing for it in return, but said if it will help people, then they would be glad to do it. Assisting in the spread of BTC adoption and empowering the common person to transact freely certainly counts as helping people.”
While setting up a trust fund for the baby, as one redditor suggested, would be “awesome,” Lee stated, a simple gift card — purchased with bitcoins, of course — would be a nice gesture. He’s even provided a link to Blockchain.info so donors could track fund-raising progress.
As of today, the blockchain showed 10 transactions on behalf of the couple, with a total of 1.195 bitcoins (around $128.00) raised so far.
In addition to receiving support for the couple, Lee is also finding new-found interest in Bitcoin among his patients since the CNN story was published.
“As you know, the first few BTC cases were ones where extra labor was necessary on the part of the business to make the transaction happen the way it did,” Lee told CoinDesk in an email. “Since then, there have been at least two spontaneous unsolicited inquiries about paying with BTC from my current patients as well as two inquiries from potential new patients.”
Lee continues to evangelize for Bitcoin in other ways as well, even bringing up the topic with fellow physicians occasionally. None so far has adopted it professionally, he noted, but “some are interested in knowing about BTC for personal reasons.”