Becoming a mom against the odds

May 11, 2012 1:52:44 PM PDT
Mother's Day is always particularly sweet for one woman.

Not long ago she and her husband were facing major infertility problems.

But thanks to an innovative technique and a little bit of luck, her dream of being a mom is now reality.

Little Kenley is celebrating her first birthday as she defied the odds just by being born. Her conception was a challenge her parents say they never expected.

"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," said Jason Schiraldi, with Cleveland Clinic.

Kenley's mom Jen had trouble producing eggs and her dad Jason was unable to produce enough sperm.

So to try in-vitro fertilization, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic first surgically removed testicular tissue from Jason to look for sperm. In most cases, thousands of viable sperm can be found this way, but after 9 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," said Dr. Nina Desai.

Usually large numbers of sperm are frozen together which means it's not a problem if some are damaged in the process. But when there's only one, the biggest challenge is freezing it all by itself, it's called single sperm cryopreservation.

Once Jen produced enough eggs, that one sperm was carefully thawed and injected into one of them.

"For the Shiraldi's, this was the first time that a single-ly frozen sperm created the embryo that was actually transferred," adds Dr. Desai.

It was the Schiraldi's one and only chance of having a baby, and it worked.

And if it worked for them, the hope is that this technique can help other couples where a low sperm count is the challenge if those few sperm can be safely frozen and thawed, then in-vitro can still work.

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