Unlike countries where couples often spend their entire life savings trying to conceive a child with the help of expensive medical intervention such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), Israel provides free IVF until a woman has two babies or reaches age 45.
According to Prof. Arye Hurwitz, head of the Hadassah Medical Center’s IVF Unit, Hadassah provides over 5,000 IVF procedures each year to patients from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and abroad. Here are the stories of just a few of the patients that Hadassah helps each year to overcome their fertility issues and become parents.
Miriam and Allon*
Becoming a kindergarten teacher was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Miriam. She had always loved children. She loved watching her young students grow and develop, eliciting their joy and wiping their occasional tears. She dreamt of having children of her own but, nearing 40, she was still single. She decided that she’d rather have a child on her own than face a future without her own children. Knowing that artificial insemination is covered by health insurance in Israel, she discussed this possibility with her physician, who referred her to Hadassah.
“Miriam didn’t become pregnant with regular insemination, nor with a first attempt of IVF,” relates Prof. Hurwitz. “She had blocked fallopian tubes.”
Despite the lack of success, Miriam was determined to continue. A Dad, bringing his little girl to nursery school one day, tarried to talk with her. Allon was widowed; his wife had passed away from breast cancer. He invited Miriam to have coffee with him.
And so their romance began. Miriam told Allon about her decision to become a parent.
He offered himself as a solution. Using Allon’s sperm, Miriam became pregnant and had a baby girl.
How does Dr. Hurwitz explain the success of the second trial with IVF? “We use the most advanced methods,” he says, “but it’s impossible to quantify the psychological aspects because we don’t know the role of stress. But you can’t argue with success.”
Danny and Nechama*
Danny, a married army officer, was given the horrifying news that he had testicular cancer. In the same moment, he feared for his life and was devastated by the thought that he would never be able to father children. But the Hadassah doctors had words of comfort: He could freeze his sperm for whenever he and his wife wanted to have a baby.
Life is not short on complications, however. Danny’s wife, Nechama, it turned out, is a carrier of the gene associated with muscular dystrophy, an incurable and fatal childhood disease. Consequently, the couple needed to resort to IVF so they could pre-select potential embryos that were free of the lethal gene. Despite the complexity, Nechama became pregnant with a healthy baby.
Gila and Ronit*
Gila and Ronit are a single-sexed couple, both around 40 years of age. Although Gila had a baby from a previous insemination, the couple wanted to have babies, ideally, from the same father. They applied for artificial insemination and both underwent fertility treatment at Hadassah. Gila became pregnant after the fertility treatment, but Ronit needed IVF. Both women learned they were pregnant with twins. While they were absorbing the news, both women lost one of the fetuses. Within one week of each other, they both gave birth at Hadassah to baby girls.
Nadine and Mordechai*
When Nadine discovered she had cancer and was in need of chemotherapy, she decided to have her eggs frozen. Tragically, her cancer was incurable. Her husband, Mordechai, eventually remarried. His wife, Sarah, couldn’t conceive. After much discussion, they applied to the courts to use Nadine’s frozen eggs. After hearing the case and meeting the couple, the court gave its blessings. The fertility team at Hadassah provided the medical solution and helped to create a family.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
Israel has the highest per capita use of IVF in the world.