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Archive for the ‘History of IVF’ Category

Remembering 9/11 Sixteen Years Later

By Tracey Minella

September 11th, 2017 at 6:43 am

Credit: Pixabay/Ronile

 

I don’t think anything is more appropriate on this anniversary than to remember that day, so I’m sharing this classic.

 

You’ll always remember where you were that fateful day. And so will I.

 

I was working as a medical assistant for Long Island IVF. I was also a patient of Dr. Kreiner’s…and about 9 weeks pregnant with my son. Could life be any happier on a blindingly clear, crisp September morning?

 

It started out as a typical day, with the usual morning rush. Lots of busy women…many trying to get their blood and sono done so they cold hurry off to work. A few rushing to catch a train to the city. Men dropping off specimens on their way to the office. Some trying to catch a train to the city.

 

A train to the city.

 

By the time news of the second plane crash hit, most of the morning’s patients had already been seen and were gone. Disbelief was quickly followed by panic as we and the rest of the nation scrambled to figure out if our friends and family who worked in NYC were ok.  And what about our patients?

 

Doesn’t “So-and-So” work downtown? Isn’t “Mr. X” a trader on Wall Street? We spent the morning pouring over the employer info in the patients’ charts, making calls on jammed phone lines, and accounting for everyone’s whereabouts.  We went through the motions of the day on auto-pilot, glued to a 13” black and white TV in the nurse’s station, watching the horror unfold.

 

What kind of world was I bringing this baby into?

 

But just as there were stories of heroism, good deeds, and miracles amid the atrocity of the attacks, there was something positive that day in the Long Island IVF office.

 

A patient learned that, despite the chaos unfolding around her, it was indeed going to be her insemination day. When it’s your day, it’s your day. Not even an act of war will intervene. And 9/11 was to be her only day. One insemination. That afternoon. Amid the sadness and silence and sobs of the patient and everyone in the office.

 

And we came to learn a couple weeks later, that on the day the Twin Towers and the lives of so many innocent people were lost, we had participated in one ironically beautiful beginning. That patient got pregnant and had…twins.

 

Usually, it’s the patient who is thankful to the doctor and staff. But I will always be grateful to that patient for giving us one little happy something…well, actually two…to remember from that fateful day. And for being a sign to me that the world would go on, that we’d keep making babies, and that maybe it was going to be all right.

 

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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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Remembering My Mentor, Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr.

By David Kreiner, MD

August 4th, 2017 at 6:14 pm

 

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 ever 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 IVF/Infertility world.  He was after all famous in the field even before 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.

In the 1950′s, it was HWJ Jr. who biopsied the cervical cancer of Henrietta Lacks who was made famous from the book and movie, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.  These cells from his biopsy were later utilized in nearly all scientific experiments for the next several decades.

In the 1960′s HWJ Jr. opened the first gender reassignment surgery clinic in the U.S. as well as performing pioneering work on ambiguous genitalia.

In 1965, he and Robert Edwards, the Nobel Prize winner for the world’s first successful IVF birth of Louise Brown, fertilized the first human egg.

In 1975, at the age of 65, Howard W. Jones Jr. was forced to retire from Johns Hopkins.  Ultimately, in 1978, Dr. Howard and Georgeanna retired to Norfolk, VA where he planned to work part-time as Emeritus Professor at the local medical school.  All this changed when Robert Edwards succeeded in creating the first successful IVF that resulted in Louise Brown.

Local journalists, aware of Dr. Jones’s reputation and past work with Prof. Edwards interviewed Howard.  At the conclusion of the interview the journalist asked Dr. Jones what it would take to perform IVF in Norfolk to which he simply replied “money”. The next day a former patient pledged that money and within 2 years the first successful IVF program west of the Atlantic was up and running and quickly became arguably the world’s most successful IVF program.

In his final decades Dr. Howard dedicated himself to promoting IVF as a successful medical treatment for those otherwise unable to conceive and to exploring bioethics in the field of reproduction.  Howard Jones never retired as he loved his work and recognized purpose and the satisfaction of achieving his life’s goals in his endeavors.

At a speech he gave during a celebration of his 100th birthday in a huge gathering of hundreds of professionals in the field, he quoted a professor of his at Amherst College from 80 years earlier, Robert Frost.  These seven lines, he said, exemplify, for him, the way to live:

My object in living is to unite 
My avocation and my vocation 
As my two eyes make one in sight. 
Only where love and need are one, 
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done 
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

I have aspired to live my life and career as Dr. Howard had taught me. When I am asked what I do for a living I smile and ramble on about feeling privileged to do what I love…helping those in need build families. By doing so I truly feel my endeavors perpetuate Dr. Howard’s standard of making a significant impact on the future of humanity.

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Happy Birthday to the World’s First Test Tube Baby!

By Tracey Minella

July 25th, 2017 at 9:04 am

 

image: wpclipart.com

 

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Louise Brown. Happy Birthday to you. Are ya one, are ya two, are ya three…?

 

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the birth of the World’s first “test tube” baby? Probably not. But I do.

 

I was just learning about reproduction as a young teen, reading the newspaper in my parents’ brown, gold, orange and white classic 70’s kitchen, when I learned the sensational, seemingly sci-fi news. I remember thinking it was cool. Dad was intrigued. Mom was mortified.

 

Little did I know then how important that day in history would be in my own life. And how that very technology would be the answer to my own dream of becoming a mother some twenty plus years later.

 

Let’s celebrate Louise Brown’s birthday with a Q&A to honor the woman whose birth led us to our life’s work… and for some of us… to our own children.

 

So here are the questions:

  1. In what country was the World’s first IVF Baby, Louise Brown, born?
  2. Give the last names of Louise Brown’s mother’s two IVF doctors?
  3. In what year was Louise born?
  4. Was she an only child?
  5. Was Louise’s first child conceived naturally or through IVF?
  6. Louise is not the first IVF baby to have her own baby, but Louise is related to the first IVF baby to have her own baby. What is the woman’s name and what is their relationship?
  7. Who was America’s first IVF baby?

 

So…any smarty pants IVF historians out there? Let’s see what you’ve got!

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Long Island IVF Babies– Grown and Flown!

By Tracey Minella

August 12th, 2016 at 5:51 pm

 

image credit: T. Minella


These days are pretty emotional around the office as the Long Island IVF babies of a few of the current and former staff are going off to college and military academies!!! Imagine that. We’ve been making IVF babies so long here—since 1988– that a bunch of our babies are flying the coop all at once! It seems we were all just pregnant together, nearly 18 years ago. (Good luck Tori, Eric, and Nicolette!)

Maybe yours are leaving, too?

Or maybe they’re starting kindergarten. Or you just brought them home from the hospital. Or maybe you’re pregnant at last and waiting with baited breath for the big arrival. Or you’re currently in treatment and hopeful during the two week wait.

All those moments seem like just yesterday…*sigh*

Consider sharing your Long Island IVF baby moments! After all, we’re all family.

Please join us as we share these milestones on social media. Whether you’re a Facebook fan, or love to Tweet, or are heavily into Instagram, we’d love it if you’re comfortable sharing your posts and pics on our social media accounts– so just tag us if you’d like to share your pride and joy.

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/longislandivf/

Twitter: @Longislandivf

Instagram: @liivf

These photos and shared experiences give hope to current and prospective patients that they will have their miracles and their lifetimes of shareable moments, too. Too often, we see the babies shortly after birth and then life gets in the way. We’d  love to see our your babies more often, especially when they are celebrating milestones.

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What’s your little miracle up to?

 

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Celebrating the World’s First IVF Baby!

By Tracey Minella

July 25th, 2016 at 10:01 am

image credit: wpclipart.com

 

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Louise Brown. Happy Birthday to you.

 

Many of you are too young to remember where you were when news of the birth of the World’s first “test tube” baby hit the stands. Maybe you were playing with Barbies, or maybe you weren’t even born yet. I remember it though.

 

I was a young teen just learning about reproduction, reading the newspaper in our brown, gold, orange and white classic 70’s kitchen. I remember hearing the sensational, seemingly sci-fi news and thinking it was cool. Dad was intrigued. Mom was mortified.

 

Little did I know then how important this day in history would be in my own life. And how IVF technology would be the answer to my own dream of becoming a mother some twenty years later.

 

For the past several years, I recognize Louise Brown’s birthday in some little way. It may be a blog post, or just a moment of reflection on how thankful I am for her mom’s courage way back then. I’ve even had a cupcake or raised a glass on her behalf. It’s my little way of honoring the woman whose birth led to the births of my own children decades later.

 

Here’s an IVF trivia question in her honor:

Louise is not the first IVF baby to have her own baby, but Louise is related to the first IVF baby to have her own baby. What is the woman’s name and what is their relationship?

 

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If you could say anything to Louise Brown’s mother, what would you say?

 

 

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IVF and Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS) a/k/a Pre-embryo Genetic Screening (PGS)

By David Kreiner MD

January 20th, 2016 at 1:55 pm

 

credit T. Minella

In 1985, when I started my fellowship training at the Jones Institute, IVF technology was so new that we numbered each baby that was born as a result of IVF and it was still in double digits. People came to us for IVF from all over the world because our success rate was the best — at that time, just 15 percent.

The technology of IVF was so inefficient then, it was routine to transfer six embryos at a time. That’s what it typically took to create a singleton pregnancy. Sometimes the result was multiples. My experience with multiple pregnancies in those early years opened my eyes and heart to the additional struggles that accompanied patients’ tremendous joy at finally being pregnant.

With the discoveries and improvements in both clinical and laboratory procedures and techniques in the early 2000’s, success rates for IVF boomed… allowing for the transfer of a much more limited number of embryos that depended on patient age and embryo quality. Ultimately, the goal was Single Embryo Transfer (SET), the transfer of one high quality embryo to eliminate the additional risks associated with multiple pregnancies.

The challenge has been that, despite the transfer of an embryo that appeared of highest quality, one could not tell by simply looking under the microscope that the embryo was genetically normal. Abnormal embryos were not just less likely to implant, but if they did, would miscarry or result in an abnormal fetus.

Technology to test embryos with CCS to determine if they were chromosomally normal before transferring them into the uterus has been available for over 10 years but previously the test was often inconclusive, occasionally inaccurate, and potentially hazardous to the embryos. In addition, the test cost between $5000 and $7000. Today, CCS (also known as PGS) has improved to the point that it is nearly 100% accurate and rarely inconclusive or damaging to embryos and the cost is generally not significantly more than $3000, depending on the number of embryos tested.

Incorporating CCS/PGS into IVF will increase the ability for a patient to achieve a live birth of a normal healthy baby while minimizing the risk for a miscarriage and to do so in fewer embryo transfers since only normal healthy embryos need be transferred. It is envisioned that the additional cost of PGS will be offset by virtue of going through fewer frozen embryo transfers .

These 30 years, I have seen a number of game changers in IVF.  CCS/PGS may be among the most significant.

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Would you consider using CCS/PGD?

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Remembering My Mentor, Dr. Howard Jones

By David Kreiner MD

August 12th, 2015 at 1:01 pm

 

 

credit: Newsday


On July 31, 2015, we lost a great man who with his wife Dr. Georgeanna was responsible for so much in our field of IVF and infertility. Personally, for those of us who trained with Dr. Howard Jones Jr., our careers and lives were permanently and monumentally enhanced. We are who we are, we do what we do… and the way we do it… in large part because of Dr. Howard.

 

Dr. Howard was not just America’s IVF pioneer but he performed the first transgender surgeries in the U.S. This was his reasoning. “There was a lot of discussion of the appropriateness of doing it — if it would really solve the problem” of a person’s feeling uncomfortable as a man or woman and wanting to change, he said. But the questions about sex-change surgery were not moral or psychological ones, he said — “not what reaction it would have with the general public but, from a medical point of view, if it would really be helpful.”

 

In 1978, upon retiring to Norfolk to pursue their love of sailing it was reported that the first IVF baby had been born.  The Joneses hadn’t yet finished unpacking when journalists came to their home to interview them about this future Nobel Prize winning event.  Almost as an afterthought…Dr. Jones was asked if IVF could be performed in Norfolk.  In Dr. Howard’s pinpoint precision fashion and with his classic radio announcer voice, he proclaimed that with sufficient funds they could create a successful IVF program in Norfolk.  I have seen a video of this moment and it conjures up images of Babe Ruth promising to hit a home run for that sick boy in the hospital… then pointing to the fence just prior to him knocking one out of the park.

 

My personal history with Dr. Howard began with when I arrived in Norfolk to start my fellowship the day the Jones Institute moved to their new quarters in the summer of 1985.  By then the Institute had established itself through clinical success and teaching as the center of the IVF universe.  I was in awe of these giants in Reproductive Medicine who warmly welcomed me into the fold and graciously extended themselves to instruct me in the Jones Reproductive Medicine ways.  Dr. Howard was the most amazing role model as he could motivate and direct like a general leading his troops to battle.  He liked to say, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and he did what he could to insure the integrity of each of those links.  Through his time, efforts and knowledge, Drs. Howard and Georgeanna, Dr. Rosenwaks and others at the Institute trained me and in so doing passed the baton of successful family building to open the first successful IVF program in Long Island.

 

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Losing Dr. Jones: Mourning a Beloved Stranger

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2015 at 6:34 pm

 

credit: anankkml/ freedigitalphotos.net


How do you mourn a man you never knew? How do you thank a doctor you’ve never met for making you a mom?

Millions of parents and their miracle children and grandchildren are struggling with those feelings after the death last week of Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. the pioneer (along with his late wife Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones) of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in America. Today’s IVF patients should be mourning him as well.

Imagine how many of us would be living our lives childless without the hope of ever conceiving or creating a biological child? People who need IVF technology include women with blocked tubes, women with poor quality or no eggs, men with male factor infertility, and some members of the LGBT community.

Maybe I felt closer to him because I’ve been lucky enough to hear Dr. Kreiner over the years tell of his days studying under both of the Dr. Joneses at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, VA. It’s mind-blowing to me to imagine my very own doctor training directly with this legendary pioneer duo and then bringing that knowledge here to Long Island.

Reading up on his life, I came across a few unbelievable tidbits about “Dr. Howard’s” incredible life in this interesting New York Times article*:

  1. He was delivered by Dr. J. King Seegar, the man who would become his father-in-law nearly 30 years later.

 

  1. He started to study genital anomalies in the 1950s and helped found the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in 1965, which was the first sex-change clinic in an American hospital. He operated on babies with ambiguous genitalia.

 

  1. He was involved in cancer studies while at Johns Hopkins and diagnosed cervical cancer in a black woman named Henrietta Lacks in 1951. Though she died rather quickly from that cancer, biologists continued to use Ms. Lacks’ “immortal” cancer cell line (known as HeLa cells) “which led to breakthroughs in research on the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.” Some have questioned whether she gave appropriate consent for the use of her cells for research.

 

 

  1. He took up In Vitro Fertilization as a post-retirement career…something he pursued after mandatory retirement from Johns Hopkins at age 65! He was nearly 71 when the first American IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was born in 1981.

 

  1. He remained active into his 100s, and published a memoir, In Vitro Fertilization Comes to America: Memoir of a Medical Breakthrough, only 10 months ago.

 

Talk about leaving multiple legacies! But don’t be discouraged. There’s plenty of time for you to mark your own mark on the world. Remember, he didn’t get around to IVF until he retired!

Well, they certainly don’t make men like Dr. Jones anymore. But, thanks to him, Dr. Kreiner and other doctors all over the world continue his legacy and are, in fact, making little men (and little women) every day who could grow up to do great things.

So, on behalf of a grateful nation of your children.. and those who are yet to come… rest easy, Dr. Jones. You’ve certainly earned it.

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If you could tell or ask Dr. Jones one thing, what would it be?

 

*http://nyti.ms/1IJXNjv

 

 

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To Single Embryo Transfer (or Not to)?: That is the Question

By Tracey Minella

February 11th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

 

Credit: stockimages/ freedigitalphotos.net


One of the hardest parts of undergoing in vitro fertilization is the difficult decision of how many embryos to transfer back…because each embryo transferred has the potential to implant and develop into a baby.

In the 1980s when IVF was new and success rates were understandably low, it was common to transfer as many as 6 embryos back. Even then, many women did not conceive. Others conceived multiple pregnancies. Still others conceived only one.

Happily, today the technology has been dramatically fine-tuned, resulting in much higher IVF success rates and, because fewer embryos are being transferred, fewer multiple pregnancies.

Some women can’t or don’t want to have a multiple pregnancy and are interested in a program that virtually eliminates the risk of more than a singleton pregnancy. Some of their reasons include possible health risks for the mother or babies, concerns over the higher costs of raising multiples, or the fear of being placed on bed rest and its potential financial impact.

On the other hand, because IVF can be expensive and often not covered by insurance, and because the couples attempting it may have already been trying to conceive for a long time with and without medical assistance and expense, it’s tempting to want to “put all your eggs in one basket”. These couples want to transfer a higher number of embryos back to maximize their chance of conceiving in that one cycle or because they can’t afford to do more cycles. Many couples think of the possibility of twins as a bonus. Two-for-one. Instant family. Dream come true.

But if the financial burden was lessened, and the odds of a live birth from transferring one embryo were nearly comparable to the odds for transferring more, would that make a difference to you? Would you opt for the statistically safer singleton pregnancy vs. the statistically riskier multiple pregnancy? Would you really prefer a multiple pregnancy or would you rather have a succession of singleton pregnancies, the way you originally planned before infertility entered your life?

Deep, emotionally-charged decision. No right answer. Just the right answer for you.

Some good news that may affect your decision is 20-year study of 92,000 patients from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, recently published in the on-line Oxford Journal, Human Reproduction, on January 21, 2015. The Nordic study found that the health of children born from IVF has significantly improved and that the risks of pre-term or severely pre-term births have declined dramatically…and it’s primarily due to transferring just one embryo. In addition, the stillborn and infant death rate for singletons and twins born through IVF has declined. http://bit.ly/1Ejgg1o

For those interested, Long Island IVF has a well-established Elective Single Embryo Transfer Program with success rates comparable to traditional IVF in select patients. If you elect to transfer one embryo in your fresh cycle you get free cryopreservation of your embryos and free storage for six months or until a live birth occurs. As an additional incentive to motivate patients to make safer choices, we offer patients transferring a single embryo during their fresh stimulation cycle up to three frozen embryo transfers, within a year of their retrieval or until a live birth occurs, for the price of one. For more details and information on whether SET may be right for you, visit http://www.longislandivf.com/single_embryo_transfer.cfm or ask your LIIVF physician.

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What did/would you consider when deciding how many embryos to transfer? Is the elective SET program something you did/would consider? Why or why not?

 

 

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