Couples struggling to fall pregnant often put all their eggs in one basket. But what happens when that basket gets caught up in a natural disaster?
This is the reality that countless couples are currently experiencing as Hurricane Irma pounds America, damaging homes, destroying property and devastating families.
One of the properties in the direct line of fire is Conceptions Florida ― a busy fertility clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. While most Florida residents spent last week packing up their homes and preparing for the worst, Dr Armando Hernandez-Rey refused to leave until he knew his patients’ dreams of starting a family were safe
After all, his clinic offers the last hope for many couples to get pregnant.
Save the eggs!
The doctor shared a post on Facebook, reassuring his patients that their precious embryos, eggs and sperm are taken care of.
“We are hoping and praying for Irma to turn away and spare us. However, like all of you, we have been preparing for a direct hit on Miami. Our top priority is taking care of the embryos, eggs, and sperm in the lab,” he writes.
“Our lab is less than two years old so it was built to the highest hurricane standards. We have hurricane impact windows in the office and a generator inside a hurricane proof bunker...
“Please stay safe. We are hoping that we will be back to making babies soon.”
Embryos before evacuation
The clinic does upwards of 400 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles a year for couples who are struggling to conceive. The clinic also stores countless samples, including samples from men who are about to start chemotherapy.
“They stored with us to preserve their fertility. If we lose that, they’ve got none left,” Dr Armando says.
Dr Armando has since evacuated his home as Hurricane Irma leaves her mark. The powerful category four hurricane has already tore through the Caribbean Islands, damaging 90 percent of Bermuda and continues on her path of peril. The death toll sits at 30 people already.
FEMA administrator Brock Long describes Hurricane Irma as “a threat that is going to devastate the United States”, but Dr. Armando remains optimistic that he has done everything possible to protect his patients’ samples.
“I think the city’s going to be in shambles. But I’ve got to protect what’s in the tanks.”
Embryos damaged in South Australia blackout
This isn’t the first time a natural disaster has threatened the safety of embryos. And it probably won’t be the last.
In 2016, 12 families lost their embryos ready for transfer after a generator failure at Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia.
The failure occurred during the South Australian blackout, when wild storms knocked out power supplies to the entire state. Without power, the eggs had no chance to survive. And the families woke up to the news that their plans to start a family wouldn’t go ahead.
Australia is no stranger to natural disasters with bush fires, cyclones and flooding all active threats across the country. And we know just how devastating the aftermath of a natural disaster can be.
As America prepares for Hurricane Irma, we can only pray that no one else loses their life and that no couples lose their chance to become parents.