Help When a Successful Pregnancy Seems Impossible
Ten pregnancies … 283 vials of blood drawn … one baby boy, Ezra, lost in the second trimester … discovery of a genetic blood-clotting disorder (polycystic ovary disorder) … and now over 40 years of age. The odds and the emotional stress were mounting against Jody Hernandez. “After losing Ezra, I didn’t want to stop that way,” she says. “I refused to let fear dictate me, and I wanted no regrets.”
Hernandez is as tough as the organization she represents as Chief Operating Officer (COO) — the Girl Scouts of America, where she has served locally since 2005. However, she acknowledges it was her support system that helped her to continue toward a successful pregnancy. “Dr. Garza’s staff was one of the main reasons I continued,” she says. “Their friendship over this long time of treatments and attempts was invaluable.”
Dr. Joseph Garza of Advanced Fertility Center was sympathetic with Hernandez and confirmed she had given this her best shot. When she arrived three years earlier, he discovered health problems not previously found. He also placed her on a good nutrition and supplement plan designed just for her body’s needs. “There is no cookie-cutter approach to infertility,” Garza said. “Every family is different.” He also was not surprised when Hernandez decided to continue.
He explains a very personal relationship must be developed with these families in order to discuss the most private aspects of human experience, including heritage, religion and sexual relationships. “Our team must become their best friends and also be able to release them to their OB/GYN after a successful pregnancy begins,” he said. “Then we move on because neither babies nor eggs wait for anyone, and we must be available to the family coming behind.”
San Antonio is a top medical community with some of the most successful fertility rates in the country. Industry advancements are available throughout local centers, including techniques to treat the most challenging situations. Dr. Summer James, Texas Fertility Center, has worked with cancer patients.
“I have many patients who have frozen eggs and sperm before chemotherapy,” she said. “Chemotherapy can destroy ovarian and testicular tissue so that there are no eggs left or no longer any sperm production. Once the cancer treatment is completed, they come back to utilize the frozen eggs and sperm and conceive. It is such a blessing!”
The Fertility Center of San Antonio has some of the highest success rates in the nation, according to center physician Dr. Gregory S. Neal. “The two newest advances in our field are both in the IVF arena,” he said. “Eeva (early embryo viability assessment) is the newest technology, and we are the only ones offering it in the state of Texas.
“Eeva looks at cell divisions that occur after an egg is fertilized, when the embryo is at the 2 to 4 cell stage. There is an optimal time window for an embryo to divide from 2 to 3 cells and from 3 to 4 cells. If an embryo is within each optimal time range, it is scored Eeva high, and if it misses one or both time ranges, it is graded Eeva low. If we have at least one embryo that is graded Eeva high and it is transferred, then we have noted a significantly higher pregnancy rate for the woman/couple, between a 10- and 20-percent increase,” Dr. Neal explained.
Nicole Kinateder, 28, elected to go with IVF and Eeva. The Kinateders had experienced frustration with a four-year span of unexplained infertility. Time and again they tested positive with no identifiable problems. “We were so glad to find Dr. Neal,” she says. “We needed encouragement and a new direction. It is hard to be told time and again nothing is wrong.”
However, all treatments were right and resulted in the birth of boy and girl twins, and they currently own 10 frozen embryos, if they are needed in the future.
If couples have been trying to conceive for over a year without success, they should consider a consultation. Advancements in fertility treatments have been significant for both males and females. San Antonio centers have all the information necessary to assist families.
As for Jody Hernandez, was it different this last time around? She was 43, determined and actually craving Thin Mint Cookies as she delivered a beautiful baby girl (and perhaps a future Girl Scout) — Lily. “I talk about it to help others,” she says. “It helped me to take each step of the way and go forward.” Perseverance, the right team and the proper treatment plan eventually paid off.
By Pamela Lutrell