BRIDGEPORT, CT - February 29, 2012: Throughout the 20 years since he founded CT Fertility, Dr. Michael Doyle became known among the thousands he treated as a true partner and motivator in their quest for parenthood. Many couples struggling with infertility were reassured by his insistence to do “whatever it takes” to make them parents, often foregoing payment when their resources ran dry. In 2011, as part of the clinic’s extended 20th anniversary social responsibility drive, Dr. Doyle introduced “The CT Fertility Lifelines Initiative,” committing to formally donate a full set of fertility treatment services to three families every year. As it turns out, six couples benefited from the initiative in 2011, and their stories illustrate CT Fertility’s dedication to standing by the side of prospective parents who faced extraordinary challenges in their parenting journeys.
Of the six couples assisted by CT Fertility’s Lifelines in 2011, two had babies born recently, two more are in advanced pregnancy stages, and two are still in process. Five received pro bono IVF treatments, and one received a substantial discount. Two of the treatments included complementary egg donations, and two received free donated embryos. Common to all was psychological and financial exhaustion from many years (often a decade or more) of repeated attempts to get pregnant. “We always do our best to make fertility services accessible to all our patients,” said Dr. Doyle, “and especially when people face severe medical challenges and repeated set backs, we partner with them to ensure that eventually everything would work out, regardless of costs.”
Mary and Karl have been trying to have a baby for eight years. Mary underwent several failed rounds of IUI and IVF with other clinics first and by the time she came to CT Fertility she was traumatized by the experience and exhausted her insurance coverage. “We didn’t feel like these clinics really cared about us,” recounts Mary, “the doctor had no ‘people skills’ and we felt like we were at a deli counter even though we were there practically every day for a number of weeks.” The couple decided to try the adoption route, and after a long wait they did receive a baby – but after 5 days the birth mother changed her mind and the child was taken away. “Suffice it to say, we were heartbroken,” said Mary, “but now that we have experienced being parents even just for a few of days, we knew we had to have a child!”
Determined to keep trying, yet concerned about the cost, the couple arrived at CT Fertility. “After trying twice more with my own eggs (IUI and IVF), Dr. Doyle suggested we tried egg donation. He said that he really wanted us to have a baby and agreed to give us our money back if we weren't able to get pregnant. He said he would do whatever it takes to help us become parents. We were blown away by this because no other clinic would say this to us.” The couple tried again, and when the first egg donation cycle did not result with a pregnancy, “Dr. Doyle kept his word and the subsequent rounds of IVF, including fresh and frozen eggs, were essentially free,” said Mary, “until finally, after 8 years of trying, our daughter was born this past November! Furthermore, because I had miscarried so many times, Dr. Doyle followed me and performed scans (at no cost) until week 14.”
It was not just the outcome that was different this time, but also the entire experience. “Contrary to other clinics, we feel that CT Fertility is not just about their statistics. They genuinely want to help people and everyone seem to know and care about you… One of the coordinators became my close friend; she was always very positive and reassuring. When I recently came back to say hello with our baby, everyone came out to greet us. It was like a family reunion.”
Alicia and George have been known CT Fertility for over 16 years. Alicia had fertility problems early on, and Dr. Doyle helped her successfully become pregnant twice, resulting in the birth of two daughters, now 15 and 10 years old. However when in 2008 the couple decided to have a third child, Alicia was unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to term despite several IUI and IVF attempts. At some point Dr. Doyle offered her to undergo IVF with donated eggs at a large discount, but that attempt resulted in a miscarriage as well. “Towards the end of 2011, I was at the end of the financial rope and my health insurance would no longer cover any further IVF cycles,” recalls Alicia. “At this point Dr. Doyle suggested we try using donated embryos, and offered to cover the costs.”
“As an increasing number of people realize, parenting with the help of donated embryos is a safe and affordable option often considered by couples after multiple attempts to have their own biological children,” says Dr. Doyle. “Last December CT Fertility launched ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ campaign to encourage embryo donations from our former patients, and we are pleased that now we have many more frozen embryos available.”
“Today, thanks to Dr. Doyle I'm 25 weeks pregnant and feeling absolutely fabulous,” reports Alicia. “The entire staff at CT Fertility was fantastic: the egg donor department, the genetic counseling and nursing staff, the recovery staff... they were all incredible, compassionate, very knowledgeable, always available, always flexible." “Often it was very difficult to keep on going,” Alicia confessed. “My passion, from when I was a little girl, was to nurture children. I think Dr. Doyle somehow knew or sensed this in me. He never gave up on me. Because of his work, through the grace of God, I have realized my dream for what will be the third time. I will forever be grateful for that.”
Grace and Chris are another couple that realized their dream of parenting with the help of the Lifelines program while using donated embryos. Eight months old Ben was born after a decade of failed attempts. After two miscarriages Grace had in 2001, the couple embarked on a journey that escalated to include the help of a gestational carrier, and several attempts with both Grace’s eggs and those of two egg donors. Exhausted from the psychological and financial toll of their journey, the use of donated embryos was suggested by Dr. Doyle, and he also offered to cover the IVF costs. This time a pregnancy occurred on the first attempt, and their gestational surrogate carried Ben to term without a hitch. “We are forever thankful… We are the happiest we have been in more than 10 years, our son is the light and shining star in our lives, a rainbow of hope,” Grace said.