When Zdravka emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States, she pursued PhD studies in genetics, followed by a job in research. She and her husband eventually planned to have a family. “Just when we were ready to move ahead, my husband, then in his 50s, was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” she said.

Mass General Fertility Center

They needed to turn to other options, for which the Vincent Department of OB/GYN offers a wealth of services for women and men in the Mass General Fertility Center, headed by John Petrozza, MD. Here, they found a team of doctors renowned for diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of infertility.

Revolutionary techniques

For Zdravka and her husband, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was the answer. Before beginning cancer treatment, his sperm would be collected and frozen, then later united with her eggs in the laboratory and implanted in her uterus.

Zdravka’s doctor, Aaron Styer, MD, is a member of the IVF team, directed by Thomas Toth, MD. The Vincent’s IVF Unit has outstanding success rates in helping patients achieve pregnancy and live birth. Its doctors also are leaders in developing new reproductive surgeries and technologies, such as a revolutionary new way to freeze eggs, now in clinical trials.

Gift of pregnancy

In Vitro
Zdravka was prescribed a series of medications designed to stimulate an IVF cycle, in which the release of the mother’s egg (ovulation) is closely synchronized with egg retrieval, done with a delicate, minimally invasive procedure. The eggs are fertilized with the father’s sperm in the Fertility Center’s laboratory, directed by Diane Wright, PhD, then implanted in the mother’s uterus.

Of two fertilized eggs implanted in Zdravka’s womb, one successfully took hold. For the next nine months, her pregnancy was closely monitored by the Vincent staff. At age 36, she gave birth.

“Today, people are having babies later in life and sometimes need an assisted procedure,” she said. “If it weren’t for IVF, we wouldn’t have our little Peter. It changed our lives forever.”