If getting pregnant has been a challenge for you and your partner, you're not alone -- about 10 percent of the population has infertility issues. But one couple's dream of being parents is now a reality because of an innovative technique and a little bit of luck.
The Schiraldi family is celebrating a first birthday. Little Kenley is one today, but for this family, ‘first' has special meaning.
Jen Schiraldi says, "I guess you could say we knew our chances weren't good, but we didn't know that this had never happened before."
It seems like a simple formula: Mom + Dad = Baby.
But it wasn't that easy for Jen and Jason.
"It's easier to take when it's just happening to you versus preventing her from having what she's wanted her entire life as well," says Jason Shiraldi.
Jen had trouble producing eggs and Jason was unable to produce sperm the way most men do, so fertility experts at Cleveland Clinic had to surgically remove tissue and search by hand for Jason's sperm. Normally, thousands of viable sperm can be found this way, but after hours of searching, Jason only had one.
"We were able to find this one lone sperm that we were able to freeze, all by its lonesome," Dr. Nina Desai explains.
Usually large numbers of sperm are frozen together, but this time the challenge was freezing one all by itself.
"We've been working on finding a way to do single-sperm freezing since about 2001," says Dr. Desai. "We take this little half a microlitre or so of fluid, place it on the gutter, and we slow freeze this and then immerse this in liquid nitrogen."
Once Jen produced enough eggs, the sperm was carefully thawed and injected into one of them.
"For the Shiraldis, this was the first time that a single frozen sperm created the embryo that was actually transferred, says Dr. Desai.
It was the their one shot at having a baby.
"They couldn't calculate the odds - it's never happened," says Jason.
"You know I always just say she's our wish that came true," says Jen. "If they want to call her a miracle, I'm fine with that, but she was our hope and our wish and our dream. And she came true."
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