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“Unsung hero to LGBT community” Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., the Father of Fertility

By David Kreiner, MD

August 23rd, 2017 at 11:04 am

 

Dr.David Kreiner with Drs. Georgeanna Jones and Howard W. Jones, Jr.


You may already know that Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. was the doctor responsible for the birth of America’s first in vitro fertilization “IVF” baby in 1981. IVF and its related technology is the therapy used most often in LGBT family-building.

But you probably didn’t know that the “Father of Fertility” also did ground-breaking work in another medical area that would impact the lives of those in the LGBT community? Work that might raise some eyebrows today, but was positively unfathomable in the 1960s. Let me tell you more about my fascinating mentor.

I first met Howard W. Jones Jr, when I was 29 years old while still an obstetrics and gynecology resident in 1984.  It is now two years since his passing at the age of 104 and his legacy lives on growing greater with each passing year.

He interviewed me back then for a fellowship position in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility and IVF at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Va., the first successful IVF center in the Western Hemisphere.  I was in awe of this 74-year-old statesman of the Infertility world.  He was after all famous in the field even before America’s first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was delivered on Dec. 28, 1981 — that first IVF success that Howard W. Jones Jr. and his wife Georgeanna were responsible for in the United States.

I have aspired to live my life and career as the mentor and man I knew as “Dr. Howard” had taught me.  As such, I have been active in the fertility world of the LGBT community, building your families for decades. In addition, my “LGBT Family Building New York” Facebook page is an endeavor I have undertaken to increase awareness. I also enjoy the partnership between Long Island IVF and the LGBT Network on Long Island which serves to improve access to and increase awareness of quality family-building treatment options for the LGBT community.

Dr. Howard was the ultimate medical scientist who did not have a social agenda or prejudice… only an inclination to help all those whom he was capable of helping and if there was not an established way to do so, he worked tirelessly to pave the way.

In the 1960′s– before the general public was aware of what transgender was– Dr. Howard opened the first gender reassignment surgery clinic in the U.S.  For him, this was a way he could utilize his skills learned from performing work on children with ambiguous genitalia to helping those whose gender identities differed from their appearances.

When Dr. Howard established the first successful IVF program west of the Atlantic he did not limit the technology to the married heterosexual couple.  It was his vision that if an individual or couple was in need and desired to start a family that he could offer the latest advances in medicine to assist them.

Remarkably, Dr. Howard was 70 years old when he succeeded with America’s first IVF success.  Rather than accept the retirement his former employer, Johns Hopkins University, had imposed on him due to age, Dr. Howard embarked on arguably the most significant project of his life…IVF.

As I just begin to enter the twilight years of my professional career I look at the accomplishments of my mentor and realize that there is still much good to accomplish.  For me, among other things that means continuing my commitment to making available family building to those in the LGBT community and in so doing perpetuating the legacy of groundbreaking reproductive assistance that was started by the “Father of Fertility”, Dr. Howard W. Jones. Jr.

I encourage all members of the LGBT community who long for a family of their own to meet me and some of the medical staff of Long Island IVF and reproductive attorney, Amy Demma, at our upcoming free event “Building Families in the LGBT Community”, held in conjunction with the LGBT Network at the Center at Bay Shore at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, NY 11706 on October 26, 2017. Register here now.

 

 

 

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