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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Hanukkah Wishes for the Infertile

By Tracey Minella

December 12th, 2017 at 9:52 am


image: digitalart at

With the festival of lights now underway, everyone at Long Island IVF wishes all those who celebrate it a very Happy Hanukkah.


Like many holidays throughout the year, Hanukkah and its traditions can bring both peace and stress to those suffering from infertility.


Seeing the little ones squealing as they spin dreidels can be hard to take when all you want is a child of your own. Same thing goes for the gelt collection—chocolate-covered or otherwise. Of course, many of you are anxiously awaiting the day you can pass these rich traditions on to your own children.


The stress can even make you over-indulge in the fried-food favorites of the holiday. And no one would blame you if you did. Especially if having a mouthful of latkes is your way to avoid answering Aunt Muriel’s nosy baby questions.


For those who are frustrated or losing faith due to the delay in your family-building plan, I hope you’ll draw strength from the Hanukkah story and embrace the light from the candles as they are lit each evening.


When you feel you have only enough left in you to go on for one more day, you can.. and will… somehow inexplicably, go on for much longer than you ever thought possible. So, keep the faith.


And for many, you will witness a miracle.



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Fertility Preservation, IVF, and a Race Against Time

By David Kreiner MD

June 9th, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I attended a beautiful First Communion party for the cutest seven year-old boy, Michael.  We were dancing and feasting and making merry in celebration of this very special boy’s religious achievement.

His mom, Sylvanna, made a speech that left not a dry eye in the catering hall.  She told her story… one that most in the room were previously unaware of.

Michael was the blessed product of IVF using her then-dying husband’s frozen sperm. 

She explained that one day her son Nicky came home from school crying for a baby brother.  Unfortunately, Sylvanna’s husband, Kenny, was undergoing yet another chemotherapy treatment for advanced colon cancer that had spread throughout Kenny’s body, forcing him to be bedridden much of the time.

She told Kenny about Nicky’s desire for a sibling and Kenny’s reaction was that Sylvanna was crazy to consider it. Aside from his not being able to help raise a child, he thought he would not be able to contribute as he no longer made any sperm.   But Sylvanna loved her son and her husband so much that she was determined to make this happen.

Fortunately, Kenny had frozen sperm prior to his treatment when he was initially diagnosed so there did exist sperm in the bank.  With no more than hopes and prayers, Sylvanna presented to my office begging that we could assist her in her attempt to grow her family despite her husband’s illness.

The challenge was not just the limited available sperm… since only that which was frozen was going to be available… but Sylvanna was already past her 40th birthday, not to add that it was unclear how much time Kenny had left.

Sylvanna’s dad, a resident in Sicily came to support her during her IVF cycle and implored me to do everything possible to make his daughter’s dream of expanding her family a reality.  To do so by any means other than using Kenny’s sperm and her eggs was not a consideration for them.

Sylvanna stimulated well for her age and we retrieved eggs that fertilized with the cryopreserved sperm.  Two weeks later, I called Sylvanna with the news that would change her life and eventually lead to this celebration that we were now enjoying.

Months after Michael was born, Kenny did pass away but not until he got to know his second son, who lives on in his father’s memory, loved and supported by his dedicated mom, Sylvanna, his older brother Nicky, and a new family which includes her new husband, also named Kenny and his two children.

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Did you know that fertility preservation…freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos… prior to commencing cancer treatment, if time permits,  can often enable men and women to have biological children after their cancer crisis has been resolved?

photo credit: vera kratochivil

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A Heart-Stopping Tale: The Old Friend, A Fertility Doc, and The Subway Series

By David Kreiner MD

May 31st, 2013 at 9:05 pm


image courtesy of freedigital

“How do I feel?…The Mets won!” he exclaimed. And with those words exuding from his mouth, Marty’s whole face smiled from ear-to-ear.  “How do I feel?…Weak, but I don’t think I need a fertility doctor.”

Marty was on a roll, his joking relaxed me…his light-hearted mood and focus on his love for the Mets gladdened my heart as I was slowly realizing that Marty was back.

This 76 year-old semi-crippled athlete who loved to play tennis despite his obvious orthopedic infirmities of late struggled to walk, much less compete athletically, but clearly competitive sport was a great love of his.

This is how I knew Marty was back as he joked about his Mets winning the Subway Series.

His wife was now by his side, grasping for rational thought clouded by the sight of seeing her life’s soul mate lying apparently helpless on the floor, having just returned from a temporary state of cardiorespiratory arrest.  She was shaking, yet uncertain about Marty’s fate.

Karina, Dr. Karina I learned… our hero… was a 40-something gastroenterologist who initiated chest compressions moments before I arrived to the lobby of the restaurant but seconds after Marty was seen clutching at his chest, collapsing to the ground. He stopped breathing… his heart stopped beating…and he turned blue.

I confirmed there was no heartbeat nor respirations, as Dr. Karina continued chest compressions.  I looked at Marty and thought about all the fuss he had made over the years regarding road safety in our community…his involvement in tennis and the men’s club, as well attempts to bring others into the fold.

I respected Marty as a role model who I wished to emulate 19 years hence.  He was active, athletic, and responsible for the welfare of the community.

I was determined to breathe life back into this man who in my eyes had plenty more tennis matches to play, Mets games to cheer for, and kids to warn to slow down their cars.  With the will of God I exhaled my life’s breath, filling Marty’s lungs not once but twice.  In response to Dr. Karina’s chest compressions and my breaths, Marty started to perk up with a strong pulse.  His palms were now sweaty and his eyes were beginning to focus.

I dared to ask him, “Marty, do you know who I am”?

“Of course,” Marty said.  “You are the fertility doctor and the one who creates life”.

Later that evening, reflecting on the events at the restaurant, I finally felt that maybe there is some truth that Dr. Karina and I acted as agents of God and indeed did recreate life in the lobby of the restaurant that evening.

Photo credit: Victor Habbick/

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Finding (or Keeping) the Faith During Infertility

By Tracey Minella

March 28th, 2013 at 10:57 am

image courtesy of david castillo dominici/free digital

Perhaps the only topic more potentially explosive than infertility itself is infertility and religion.

In this holy week, where the Jewish and Catholic holidays of Passover and Easter coincide…and where families blessed with little children jet off to Disney for Spring break… infertile couples are practically forced to examine their faith, or lack of it, whichever the case may be.

For some patients, their religious faith during their infertility journey is comforting, steadfast and strong. It’s an intangible bonus whose value can’t be measured. It may offer some patients an additional measure of hope or patience coming from a belief that there may be a “higher” plan at work. If a couple is open about their infertility and is active in their temple or parish, their religious community may even be a source of great support. Of course, some communities may be judgmental.

But a diagnosis of infertility is hard to accept graciously, whether you are among the faithful or not. And it is so devastating that it has caused many suffering couples to occasionally question their faith. Or abandon it.

“Why us?”

I don’t think there is an infertile couple out there that hasn’t looked up and shouted that question at some point. I sure did. Often. And not very politely, as long as we’re being honest here.

For me, it wasn’t too difficult to reconcile my faith’s position on IVF and my need to use IVF to have children. I’m a pretty good negotiator. I am a good, moral, and charitable person. I concluded that reproductive endocrinologists and assisted reproductive technology was created for a reason. That’s just me. But I understand how others would be more conflicted and how such stress could further exacerbate the stress of infertility.

There is nothing so personal as one’s infertility journey and its affect on their relationship with God. And, of course, one’s right not to believe at all.  In a forum like this, comments are encouraged with the gentle reminder not to let passion override respect of others’ different positions.

So regardless of your religion, I wish you all a journey smooth enough that it doesn’t shake your faith in God or the universe, a journey short enough that it doesn’t shake your faith in your doctor, and a journey full of peace and hope that ends with the realization that faith in yourself is as important as anything else.

This post is strictly the author’s perspective and does not necessarily reflect the views of Long Island IVF or its physicians or staff.

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Has your relationship with your faith changed, been strengthened, or been challenged as a result of your infertility journey?


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Yom Kippur and Infertility

By Tracey Minella

September 25th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

image courtesy of photostock/free

The physicians and staff at Long Island IVF would like to acknowledge the significance of this day for our patients who celebrate this most solemn of Jewish holidays.

Yom Kippur is a day of atonement for Jews. Jews believe that God inscribes their fate for the next year in the Book of Life during Rosh Hashanah and that that fate is “sealed” on Yom Kippur. Jews spend the day praying and repenting. They may also give to charity. As part of this holiday of atonement, Jews fast from just before sundown to the following sundown. Most Jews who observe do not work or make profit on this day.

Not being Jewish myself, I only know of these rituals through my many Jewish friends. I’ve always enjoyed learning about other religions and the impact of those religious doctrines on infertile people who follow that faith.

So I wonder… since I have a friend going through a donor egg retrieval and transfer this week… how an infertility patient may be affected by this holiday. What decisions would the patient be faced with regarding religious tradition and medical protocol?

I imagine the idea of one’s fate being sealed for the upcoming year would be both exciting and possibly a bit frightening when going through IVF this very week. Has the outcome already been determined? Does that belief bring a sense of comfort or more anxiety?

And what about fasting? A generally healthy adult can get through such a sacrifice without much discomfort. But what if you are undergoing a retrieval or transfer today or this week? Is there stress and deprivation to the body you’re preparing for pregnancy? What do you do?

Many religions can present infertile followers with conflict… as well as comfort …along their infertility journeys. Good luck to my friend, Keiko, and to anyone else undergoing fertility treatment this week. You can check out Keiko’s donor egg adventure this week at her blog, The Infertility Voice.

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We invite your respectful and thoughtful responses. Would you fast? Would you be stressed or comforted by doing IVF on the day of Yom Kippur, when your fate is sealed for the year? If a friend was doing IVF today and asked you for input on these issues, what thoughtful words of advice would you give her?



R-E-S-P-E-C-T is More Than a Song Title

By David Kreiner MD, and Tracey Minella

July 30th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Free Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net /Danilo Rizutti

Here’s an oldie of Dr. Kreiner’s. I’ve dusted it off as a farewell to Jennifer Lopez as she leaves American Idol. Her position on IVF may be upsetting to many patients who need help conceiving…especially since she has been blessed with twins.

Interestingly, Mariah Carey, the newly-signed Idol judge, is also a celebrity mom of twins. But she has a different view on getting medical help when trying to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. After the birth of her twins, Mariah (who’d suffered a previous miscarriage) told Barbara Walters that she used progesterone each month while TTC and then for 10 weeks after becoming pregnant.

Like it or not, many people view celebrities as role models. So it’s nice to see a celebrity who is respectful of the feelings of those who need medical assistance to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.

Here’s Dr. Kreiner’s thought-provoking post:

Back in 1985 when I started my fellowship at the pioneering mecca of IVF, the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, there were still many people and religious leaders who objected passionately with the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology to help people in need conceive.  Arguments ranged from accusing IVF of being immoral to the potential dangers of playing God.

Physician defenders of this nascent technology offered comparisons to other medical problems that have been helped by technology, such as immunizations to prevent infectious diseases like polio, chemotherapy to cure cancers like lymphoma, kidney transplants, etc.  To them, a world unwilling to use technology to aid the suffering is unethical.  They see it as criminal to stand by and ignore the cries for help.  To have infertility, is to be cursed with an inability to satisfy that basic human need, sited in the bible as a commandment to “go forth and multiply”, to procreate and build a family.  How, in God’s name can a physician with the technology and know how, ignore such pleas from the suffering?

Yet, Jennifer Lopez feels it appropriate to speak up in 2010 against IVF saying, “I…believe in God and I have a lot of faith, so I just felt like you don’t mess with things like that”…”And if it is (meant to be), it will.  And if it’s not, it’s not going to”.

I wonder if she would feel the same without the ability to cradle her babies in her arms.  Or for that matter, if she developed a disease that required the use of some other “God-like” technology would she let herself suffer rather than take advantage of a potential cure.

I respect others’ opinions and beliefs and would never tell them they were wrong in following their faith.  I wish that people like Jennifer Lopez would share the same respect for suffering infertile couples who think that IVF is an ethical treatment offering these patients their only chance at building their families.

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Post your gut reaction now.

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Another Way to Get a Child Into Your Home

By Tracey Minella

May 14th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Of course, I’m not talking about anything underhanded…
Well, Mother’s Day is finally past. Another day filled with thoughts of “Why me?” and “Why do those awful neglectful parents in the news get pregnant when I can’t?”
There’s another option for those still TTC who are frustrated and heartbroken over how long it’s taking to begin your life as parents…
Foster parenting. Even if temporarily.
Many people want to exhaust all efforts to have their own biological child before considering options like donor egg/sperm/embryos, surrogacy, or adoption. And that’s totally understandable. Everyone is entitled to build their families their own way and in their own time. But you rarely hear people mention foster parenting as a permanent or temporary answer.
May is National Foster Care Month.
Does the thought of the criminal parents in the news make you angry and ill? Does your heart break for the babies born sick? Or the children nearly murdered by abusive parents? Do you long to make a difference in the life of a suffering child?
If you answered yes, maybe becoming a temporary or permanent foster parent may be for you. Of course, it isn’t easy. There are qualification processes and red tape to go through. But for some people, having a child to start loving, even while you continue your infertility journey, can take off some of the stress. A win-win in some cases.
Sometimes you can foster a newborn; other times an older child. Sometimes the child becomes available for adoption; other times not. Sometimes it’s a short-term situation; other times it’s longer term. Maybe your needs will match those of a child awaiting a foster family.
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Did you ever consider foster parenting?

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The Pope on IVF

By Tracey Minella

March 5th, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Long Island IVF has always been committed to making IVF, IUI, and other assisted reproductive technologies available to people without regard to their religion, race, color, marital status or sexual orientation. As a medical assistant, I witnessed this universal acceptance policy firsthand.

So, when any religious leader, major politician, or celebrity speaks out against IVF, it can be exasperating… especially when the comment comes from one whose own life is so far removed from that of the heartbroken people whom he passes judgment on.

The Pope’s recent condemnation of IVF presumably causes infertile Catholics pain and conflict. Isn’t infertility hard enough without hassles from your religious leaders? Shouldn’t you be able to find comfort in hard times from your chosen religion? One of the all-time most annoying comments people make to infertile couples is that “It’s God’s will”.

Should reproductive endocrinologists be considered arrogant and accused of “taking the place of the Creator”* when they are helping people who desperately want to have a child?

For those who believe, didn’t the Creator send us these gifted doctors and today’s technology??

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We welcome your thoughtful comments on how you feel about the Pope’s position. Has your religion’s position on IVF-related issues (whether Catholic or not) affected your infertility journey? [Emotional, heartfelt responses encouraged, but please refrain from hate-filled replies.]

*You can read more about the Pope’s comments here:

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