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Infertility and The Greatest Gift

By Tracey Minella

April 12th, 2014 at 7:02 am

 

credit: artur84/freedigitalphotos.net


Ever wish you could make a real difference in someone’s life? A life-altering difference?  Well, you can, and you just may improve your own life in the process.

Egg donation is a gift you can give to a friend, family member, or stranger who desperately wants to conceive, but for any number of reasons, is unable to do so with her own eggs. She needs the eggs of a young, healthy, generous woman. Possibly you.

Donor egg recipients are often women who have struggled with infertility for years. Many have exhausted all other medical options to conceive using their own eggs or may have suffered the pain of repeated miscarriage along their journey. Sadly, some women battle cancer only to find that chemotherapy and/or radiation robbed them of the ability to use their own eggs to start a family afterwards.  

Egg donors are special, empathetic people.

Although they are financially compensated in the sum of $8,000, most women donate their eggs simply because they want to help someone else.

Some donors have had children and know how much motherhood means. Others may be students who aren’t ready to have their own families just yet, but want to help someone else do so. Most healthy, young women under the age of 31 can be candidates.

Long Island IVF gave Long Island its first donor egg baby. For more than two decades our Donor Egg Program has been helping donor egg recipients find the right egg donor and build their families.

If you’re interested in giving someone the ultimate gift…the chance to become a mother…and want to learn more about becoming an egg donor, including details regarding compensation for participation in the program, please contact the Donor Egg Coordinator, Vicky Loveland, RN, at (631) 752-0606 and view our website at http://www.longislandivf.com/egg_donor.cfm

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Are you, or do you know anyone who would be, interested in this opportunity? If so, please call or forward this information to others.

If you have donated… or received… eggs would you share your experience?           

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=100169597 artur84

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Long Island IVF’s Donor Egg Seminar this Tuesday Night!

By Tracey Minella

April 13th, 2013 at 9:19 am

 

 Having trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant? Thinking about exploring Donor Egg?

Well, Long Island IVF has the perfect seminar for you next Tuesday night which will answer all of your questions! In fact, we’re so excited about this seminar that we simply couldn’t wait a week to have it during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).

And when you hear about the very special reason why this free seminar is a must-attend-at-all-costs event, you will want to be here. So mark your calendar and come kick off NIAW one week early.

You will learn how you can have a new beginning with Donor Egg! Your knowledge and hope may grow as you hear presentations by Long Island IVF’s Donor Egg Program Director Dr. Steven Brenner, Donor Egg Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Vicky Loveland, R.N., and Aviva Zigelman, L.C.S.W.

But here is the real unique and special thing about this seminar…

You will hear the story of a previously successful recipient who created her family using donor egg! Imagine how incredibly moving and valuable that would be if you are a considering using or being an egg donor.

And after you take in all this information, you’ll be happy to know that there is no waiting list for egg donors at Long Island IVF. Pre-screened anonymous egg donors are ready to help you when you’re ready to choose this course of treatment. Or, your cycle can be coordinated with a donor of your choosing.

Relax and get your questions answered in a caring and supportive environment. Enjoy the refreshments. See if donor egg is right for you. Want to get a head start on the terminology? Check our website at: http://www.longislandivf.com/donor_programs.cfm

The Donor Egg Seminar takes place on Tuesday April 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Long Island IVF’s office at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York.

Everyone is welcome.

BE SURE TO CHECK BACK ON MONDAY FOR THE COMPLETE LINE-UP OF LONG ISLAND IVF’S UPCOMING “EVENINGS OF EDUCATION” SERIES FOR NATIONAL INFERTILITY AWARENESS WEEK WHICH BEGINS MONDAY APRIL 22!

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If you could ask any team member…or the guest speaker who used donor egg to start her family… a question about Donor Egg, what would it be?

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=10553&picture=young-couple

 

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Are “Child-less” and “Child-free” Living the Same?

By Tracey Minella

December 7th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

As a writer, I can see how other writers might use them interchangeably. But the infertile woman in me knows the difference. And it’s huge.

My infertility battle lasted several years, taking 6 fresh IVF cycles and many setbacks and losses before my daughter was born. My son came from my 7th fresh IVF.

Part of working through each lost cycle involved dealing with the nagging fear that… no matter how hard we fought, or where we found the money, or what we were willing to suffer through, or how long we were willing to wait…we could end up without a child. For us, that meant being childless.

And that thought was unbearable. Unacceptable.

In fact, the possibility of ending up childless after such a long, hard battle was a thought I could only allow to enter my mind for the briefest of moments. I pushed it away quickly, even forcefully, for fear that entertaining it for any length of time might make it real. My doctor didn’t sugar-coat the situation: I had only a 10% chance of conceiving…and that was with IVF.

I remember as cycles failed, agonizing over the decision of whether to repeat IVF or if it was time to consider adoption. While I was open to adoption, I stubbornly clung to the desire to carry my own biological child for longer than many others in my situation might. Although I didn’t feel any particular sense of “control” in doing IVF, I just personally felt more proactive doing IVF than waiting and hoping we’d be chosen for adoption. That was just me. I was so impatient.

I faced my bleak prognosis and my life in general, with blinders on… never believing I wouldn’t be a mom someday. Somehow. I would not be childless.

My desire to have a child was all-consuming. Those years robbed me of my usual self, leaving a bitter, oversensitive, judgmental woman behind. It was hard to be truly happy for those blessed with fertility, especially if they complained about anything. I couldn’t even respect the decision of those couples who actually chose not to have children. Without even knowing their reasons, I stereotyped them as self-centered and cold, preferring to indulge in the fine things without enough love in their hearts to share with a child. And I’d just about melt-down whenever there was news of babies being abandoned, beaten, or killed. (Still do.)

To go through life without parenting a child would simply be… less of a life. It would be child-less. I felt that way. And I imagine all infertile people in treatment do. Why else would we subject ourselves to all that we do to try to conceive? The ultrasounds, blood work and procedures. The plastic cups. So if at the end of our individual journeys, our arms are still empty, it is likely because an insurmountable obstacle has forced a child-less life upon us. Not because we suddenly chose to live a life without children.

Child-free people are the complete opposite of infertile people. While we often can’t wrap our heads around it, they have decided that they don’t want to have children. They want to live a life that is…free of children. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like children; they just don’t want to parent them. The lack of a baby in their arms is by choice. It’s a preference that could be based on many different considerations. Hard as it can be at times, we should try to respect that choice, keeping in mind the ideal that all babies should be loved and wanted as desperately as we want to have them.

Child-free people with no regrets don’t feel a void in their lives. Child-less people likely always will.

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Do you think the terms “child-free” and “child-less” are interchangeable? Most of us understandably feel jealous at times when we see pregnant people. But how do you feel about those who presumably can have children, but purposely choose not to?

 

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil Public domain pictures http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=10591&picture=empty-swing

 

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Discoveries Along Your Infertility Journey

By Tracey Minella

October 8th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

image courtesy of nuttakit/free digitalphotos.net

Today, celebrate the day Columbus discovered America.

Imagine starting out on a journey on uncharted waters… a handful of nervous strangers in the same boat. As you’re leaving shore, almost everyone on the dock thinks you’re crazy, or at a minimum, doesn’t understand your need to go on this adventure. Time passes with no end in sight as you plod along fighting bouts of nausea and depression. Then, the journey gets really long. Your patience grows thin. Mutiny crosses your mind.

Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!

Come to think of it, you don’t need to imagine this scenario…you’re in the same boat. Well, a similar boat. Sure, you don’t have to worry about scurvy (thanks, pre-natals!) but navigating those IM needles is no picnic. Walk the plank or take Clomid? Tough call.

When you’re diagnosed with infertility, your life veers off the path you thought it’d take. And a new journey begins. It could be relatively quick and inexpensive or it could steal years from your life and be so emotionally, physically, and financially challenging that you just want to jump overboard.

But there are discoveries along the way, though we don’t always realize the lessons until looking back years later. Those experiences shape us into who we are meant to be, and show us what we are made of. They test relationships and build friendships. Some people face unspeakable losses and others unimaginable joy.

And, like Columbus, we don’t always end up where we thought we would at the outset.

But the journey does end for all of us, whether it’s with a biological baby… a baby through donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryos… a baby through surrogacy or a gestational carrier… a baby through adoption… or even a decision to live child-free.

And the place you land is a place of new beginnings.

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Was/Is your infertility journey longer than you thought? What have you discovered as a result of your infertility journey?

 

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Uterus Transplants in the News

By Kathleen Droesch MD

September 24th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Swedish doctors this week reported on two women who each received a donated uterus from her mother in the hope of one day being able to become pregnant, carry, and deliver their own children.*

Until recently, uterine transplants were only performed successfully in animal models.  After many years of research, a live-to-live donor uterus transplant has now been offered to two women.  One woman was born without a uterus while the other had a hysterectomy for cervical cancer. Previously, these women would have been unable to have a biological child unless they utilized a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy to term.

Prior to the transplants, both patients underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures for the purpose of stimulating their ovaries to produce multiple follicles (eggs). The eggs were retrieved, combined with a semen specimen for fertilization to occur, and (because the women did not yet have a uterus to transfer the embryos back into) the resulting embryos were cryopreserved (frozen for future use).  The embryos will be transferred after waiting one year to allow for healing and confirmation of the viability of the transplanted uterus.

Certainly there are disadvantages and potential concerns regarding this procedure.  The recipients will need to take immunosuppressive medication to prevent rejection of their transplanted organs. Although, there are studies of women after kidney transplant that have had successful pregnancies while on immunosuppressive medications. It will also be more than a year before they will be able to attempt pregnancy and there are no guarantees that they will ever be successful. Even if the women achieve pregnancies, the ability of a transplanted uterus to function normally in pregnancy has not been studied.

Currently at Long Island IVF, we have patients using donated oocytes (eggs) or embryos. We also have a number of patients who’ve had their embryos transferred into the uterus of a gestational carrier.  Not only is this a complicated decision for a couple to make, but a carrier that the couple trusts may not be available.

It is exciting to see the ongoing research into fertility issues.  Although uterine transplants are currently considered experimental, one day they may take their place alongside kidney transplants for women who desire the ability to experience pregnancy after the loss of their uterus.

*For the full report, click here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/19/health/uterine-transplant/index.html

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What do you think of this breakthrough in technology?

 

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Sisters and Infertility

By Tracey Minella

August 6th, 2012 at 11:25 am

Sisters are an important part of IVF.

If you have a good relationship with yours, she can be anything from your egg donor, gestational carrier, or surrogate to your shoulder to cry on and your biggest cheerleader. Raised in the same home, she likely shares your values, knows your dreams better than anyone, and has a sense of when you need space and when you need hugs.

On the flip side, if you have a bad (or no) relationship with your sister, the stress of infertility can make things worse. Especially if she easily had the family you’re still trying to have. Or if she married after you or is younger than you and she gave your parents their first grandchild. And it’s worse if she complains about how she wasn’t even trying to get pregnant with that fourth one…or gloats how her husband just has to “look at her” and she gets pregnant. Of course, if your parents show favoritism (or you imagine it), the frustration will grow even more.

Sisters don’t have to be related by blood. Some friends are closer than sisters. And for many, sisters are the friends you choose yourself. As an only child, I consider my closest friends to be my sisters and could not have gotten through my IVF years without them.

If you missed National Sisters Day yesterday, now is your chance to give your own sister a “shout-out” for her role in helping you along your infertility journey. She does so much for you. Why not let her know right now? I’ll start. Thanks to Lisa M., Rose, Lisa G., and my sweet sister-in-law, Sue, in Heaven.

Go on. It’s your turn now…

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=6610&picture=5-sisters

 

 

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The Importance of a Soul Mate in IVF

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 am

courtesy of Rosen Georgeiev/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I should begin by applauding the single ladies doing IVF. I didn’t do IVF without a partner by my side, but had the circumstances required it, my desire to have a baby would have put me on the IVF road myself as well. I imagine you all having amazing strength simply for undertaking the challenge of single parenting, never mind the lengths you’re going to to make it happen.

But IVF with a partner is obviously very different. It must be… simply by nature of there being a relationship involved.

There’s the issue of blame. There shouldn’t be. But there often is. If one of the pair has the diagnosis, there’s often guilt to deal with. That’s never good for a relationship.

Sometimes, there are the issues of donation and third parties. Donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos. Or the need for a gestational carrier or surrogate. More complicated stuff.

There are almost always financial issues unless you are lucky enough to have generous insurance coverage. If your jobs don’t offer infertility insurance, or your employers aren’t supportive of your situation, there can be stress at work…which spills over into the home.

Then there’s the stress of watching other couples have it all. The baby you can’t have without the treatment. The house or vacation you can’t afford because of the treatment. Why you?

Infertility is isolating. It’s just the two of you. It’s like living long-term in that moment of your vows where you said “for better or for worse; in sickness and in health” but never thought the bad stuff would really happen to you.

For me, the lows were so low at times that I didn’t always appreciate my husband’s support while we were going through it. I was too consumed by the details, too worried about failing, too focused on the goal. Not focused enough on the guy at the end of that long needle each night. The one who quietly absorbed the brunt of my hormonal outbursts. The one who held me when the bottom fell out of the world. The one who never questioned my need to try again. And again.

There’s no doubt that infertility is one of the toughest tests of a marriage. Most couples that make it through successfully are surely stronger for it. I feel that most couples who come to the end of their journey together…whether it ends with a biological baby, an adopted baby, or a decision to remain child-free…proudly wear an invisible badge of marital courage.

But I feel for those whose marriages crumble from the strain of infertility. Would they have survived if not for those stresses? Would they have been one of those happy couples who skate through life escaping all real adversity? Or were they doomed anyway, and infertility just happened to be the blow to expose their already weak foundations? It’s hard to say.

Looking back, I wish I’d been better at stopping the world from spinning and re-connecting with my partner along the way. Try to do that. You are the only two who understand what you are going through and what is on the line. What you have to lose…what you have to gain. Don’t lose sight of each other when simply going through the motions of your treatment. Show your gratitude.

All journeys end. Most end happily, though not always the way we imagine happiness will be when we started. Then you get to look back on it years later and laugh at things you never thought you would. And realize you’d never have gotten though it all without your soul mate.

Happy 27th Anniversary to mine.

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What’s the one moment on your journey that you realized you were/were not with your soul mate? What would you tell your soul mate to thank him/her?

 

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Dr. Kreiner’s Letter to the Editor of Newsday

By David Kreiner, MD

July 12th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

credit: wpclipart.com

 

Long Island IVF’s co-founder, Dr. David Kreiner responds to the assertion that in-vitro fertilization, or IVF as it’s known, is a treatment of “last resort”. Here is his letter to the Editor of Newsday published on July 8, 2012:

“ Adrian Peracchio wrote an interesting account of in vitro fertilization, a technology that is now 34 years old ["The future is now," Opinion, July 1]. As stated in the article, IVF is a procedure that was born in a hailstorm of controversy and remains today accountable for 3 percent of all births in the developed nations.

A reason for IVF’s rise in popularity is a tremendous improvement in success rates. As reported in the June 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, live birthrates with IVF approximate natural conception in fertile couples. Also, IVF reaches success rates as high as 80.7 percent for couples using donor eggs after three cycles.

Peracchio points out that the cost of IVF, as much as $15,000 in many centers, is often not covered by health insurance, and that IVF was intended as a “last resort” treatment.

This is a misunderstanding of IVF as an alternative only after the failure of less aggressive treatments — such as inseminations with fertility drugs. Insurance providers cover the drug treatment, which is ironically more expensive. Fertility drug treatments can lead to multiple pregnancies and premature deliveries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we could save $1.1 billion a year if single embryo transfers with IVF were performed instead.

It is a shame that the technology developed by Robert G. Edwards for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine remains available only to a minority of couples and is still not recognized by insurance companies.”

Dr. David Kreiner, Plainview

Editor’s note: The writer is the co-founder of Long Island IVF, an infertility care center.

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We’d love your thoughts here on the blog.

But if you’d like to respond to this article on Newsday.com and reply to the thread of unsympathetic comments, the link to the letter is here: http://bit.ly/NcuEwn (I’m guessing a stress-busting vent session will result for anyone willling to take up the cause!)

 

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Donating Eggs Does Not Appear to Affect Future Fertility

By Tracey Minella

April 14th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

If you…or someone you know…is thinking about donating eggs to help another woman conceive a child, that’s an amazingly generous gift you’re considering giving. Maybe it’s something you’ve already done.

Chances are, somewhere along the way, this thought has crossed your mind:

“If I donate my eggs now, will I be able to get pregnant myself later?”

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that a recent, small study conducted at the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Brussels, Belgium reports that, in the short term, donating eggs does not appear to negatively affect the donor’s ability to conceive in the future. Of course, long term studies are needed. But this is good news for now. Read the full article at Reuters Health: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/12/us-egg-donors-idUSBRE83B1EM20120412

According to the study, led by Dr. Dominic Stoop and just published in Fertility and Sterility in April 2012:

“Of the women that indicated having pursued conception after oocyte donation, 95% (57/60) became pregnant unassisted. Before oocyte donation, 41 women in this cohort had already been trying to conceive, of which 38 had delivered a child and 3 (7.3%) had needed infertility treatment.”

Long Island IVF’s donor egg program, dating back to 1988, is the premier donor egg program on Long Island and has been responsible for the birth of many donor egg babies over nearly a quarter century.

Hopefully, egg donors…past and present…will find comfort in this study’s findings and in the knowledge that Long Island IVF  will continue to report the results of future fertility studies that are of interest to its patients.

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Did you donate eggs or consider donating eggs? Did you ever worry that doing so might affect your ability to conceive later?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15695&picture=flower-and-pregnant-belly

 

 

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IVF With Donor Embryos Can Be Citizenship Nightmare

By Tracey Minella

March 20th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

 

Here’s a lesson on family building and citizenship:

If a child is born in America, it is an American citizen, whether its parents are American or not.

If a child from abroad is adopted by an American citizen, it’s eligible to become an American citizen.

So, you knew those two facts already? Well, did you know this:

If an American citizen gets pregnant from IVF with donor embryos (donor eggs and donor sperm) and delivers abroad, the child is NOT eligible for citizenship …unless one of the DONORS is American!

And good luck trying to prove that with all the confidentiality regulations surrounding donors.

That’s right…an American woman delivers her [donated embryo IVF] baby outside of America and the baby that emerges from the American’s womb is not an American citizen. If she delivers in America, it is an American citizen because anyone born here is. Or if it was her egg, no problem.  What?

Should all the focus be on the origin of the egg and sperm? Should the uterus from which the baby emerged get equal weight?

Don’t believe this? Well, according to news reports, it happened to a Chicago woman who delivered in Israel. http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/03/ivf-insanity-is-your-donor-a-u-s-citizen

We’ve been covering the recent “Personhood Amendment” proposals and how devastating such legislation could be to the future of IVF. Here’s another example of government complicating the lives of IVF patients. And, if an IVF patient affected by this regulation leaves the country and delivers abroad, the citizenship consequences are serious.

So, if you are planning on using donor embryos and want your baby to be an American citizen, stay off that transatlantic flight or world cruise any time after the baby is viable and park your pregnant butt firmly on American soil until the delivery. Or see if you can get acceptable documentation to prove the citizenship of one of the donors before wandering off.

It’d be a real shame if after all you’ve gone through to get pregnant, you end up having a baby who can’t grow up to be the President!

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Did you know this? What do you think of this seemingly bizarre regulation?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=12502&picture=fourth-of-july

 

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