Did you know the typical male produces 60 million to 100 million sperm in a single ejaculation? It obviously only takes one sperm and one egg to make a baby, but all that biological redundancy is directly tied to the odds of a successful fertilization. For couples dealing with male factor infertility, low sperm counts (anything less than fewer than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen) can make it difficult or impossible to conceive a child without medical intervention.
However, imagine a situation in which the man produced no sperm whatsoever—and yet he was still able to father a child. At Cleveland Clinic IVF, one couple recently celebrated their daughter's birth, thanks to a groundbreaking technique the thrilled parents are describing as a modern miracle.
Jennifer Schiraldi and her husband Jason had been struggling to get pregnant for two years when they turned to a fertility clinic. Tests revealed that Jason, a healthy 35-year-old, didn't just have low sperm count, he had zero sperm count.
The Schiraldis were determined to try everything, so they moved on to a testicular biopsy, which involves surgically removing tiny bits of tissue to check for evidence of sperm. After nine hours of searching Jason’s tissue, the scientists had their results.
They had found one single, solitary sperm.
No one thought there was any hope of success, but the medical team went ahead with the IVF process: the sperm was frozen, and Jennifer's eggs were harvested—at which point they hit another road block: it was discovered that Jennifer made far fewer eggs than normal.
Jason's one frozen sperm was implanted into one of Jennifer's eggs through a meticulous ICSI procedure, and amazingly, three days later, it had divided into an embryo.
Against all the odds, Jennifer was pregnant. She went on to give birth to a healthy baby girl, and today little Kenley Schiraldi is a gorgeous 9-month old.
I know IVF can be a controversial subject, but I just love everything about this story—the couple's perseverance and hope, the astounding capabilities of modern medicine, and of course the utterly joyous outcome. Think of the hurdles they overcame to have this child, and the likelihood that she never would have been born at all without advanced healthcare techniques ... and a nearly incomprehensible amount of luck.
Or, as her parents believe, it was less about luck—and more about experiencing a bona-fide miracle.
What do you think about this story? Would you use the word "miracle" to describe baby Kenley's birth?
Image via Flickr/janineomg