They were in their early thirties and had been trying to conceive for 5 years. He was diagnosed with azoospermia and had a thorough evaluation in New York near where they lived. Genetic testing was negative and he was told that there was no clear reason for him to be infertile. About 1 year prior to his visit, he had a large sperm retrieval procedure that was timed to her IVF cycle, but it failed to find sperm and her eggs were frozen, ready for another day. And now they were out of money, and pretty much bone dry on hope too.
Yet, as they sat there in front of me, holding each other’s hands, I could see that there was still fire in their eyes. They were in this together and they were still strong.
“Dr. Turek, you’re our last hope in having kids of our own,” she said.
“I’m honored,” I said. “I hope that I can help.”
Maybe they read about my work finding sperm in microdissection failures with FNA Mapping, and maybe they didn’t. Maybe they just wanted one more opinion from someone who’s been around the block and turned gray doing it. Or maybe they wanted the scoop on the future of stem cell technology and male infertility. Alas, maybe they simply needed to know they have done all that is humanly possible to have that child. Whatever the reason is, I am honored they chose me.
The Lit Torch
For the battle they are fighting is as difficult as having cancer, or dealing with death. If “disease” is defined as conditions that detrimentally impact one’s quality of life, why the hell did it take us until 2008 to call human infertility a “disease”? What a precious gift to be handed the hope, dreams and trust of infertile couples as they journey through this terrible disease. They lay all the hope they have, every last drop of it, right smack in your lap. And hope is really the lifeblood here, as it fuels them to keep forging ahead through infertility, but also helps couples move past it if needed. Our responsibility, my friends, is to keep that hope alive at all costs.
He ended up having a small pocket of sperm on FNA mapping. This was followed by a successful sperm retrieval. But even if it hadn’t turn out this way, this was one strong, inspiring couple that had taken one of life’s great lickings and had bounced back. In the words of John Perry Barlow: “Groundless hope, like unconditional love, is the only kind worth having.”