Katie and Ed’s fertility story isn’t what many would consider typical. Where some couples find out they need fertility support after unsuccessful attempts to conceive, they knew they'd need help before they even decided to start a family. Ed’s sister had died unexpectedly as a young adult due to a genetic heart condition her parents didn’t know she had. 

“When we were dating, Ed’s dad sent him an article because he had seen something about preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) in the news,” Katie says.

They had never heard of PGT before that article. After doing more research, they knew that due to his genetic heart condition they would need to do PGT someday when they wanted to start a family.

Seeking Expertise and Experience

In her own research, Katie found that the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center had been doing PGT for over 10 years. She knew there was a 50/50 chance that her kids could inherit her husband’s genetic heart condition if they tried to conceive without the right fertility support, and that felt like too large a risk. They wanted to feel confident in a fertility clinic’s reputation for excellence and results.

“For over 15 years, the Mass General Fertility Center has offered our patients the peace of mind that comes with preimplantation genetic testing,” says Jan Shifren, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Mass General. “We are so glad we can provide this specialized care to help couples build their families.”

While other fertility clinics were closer to the couple’s home in Watertown, MA, Katie knew that she would receive the best comprehensive care at Mass General, and so she made an appointment with Jan Shifren, MD.

Bold Breakthroughs

Using DNA samples from Katie, her husband and her mother- and father-in-law, the lab created a probe that would look for embryos without her husband’s genetic heart condition.

“The science part blows my mind, I love it,” Katie says of the process of genetic testing at Mass General.

It takes a few months to build the probe and then a few weeks to test the embryos. So, while the waiting was hard, the couple felt confident this was an important part of their journey to parenthood and a healthy baby.

Once the healthy embryos were identified, Katie and Ed could schedule an appointment for embryo transfer and continue their journey to parenthood.

Compassionate Care

Katie and Ed’s first appointment with Dr. Shifren was in December of 2017. Along the way, they experienced a more complicated, and longer, process than they were anticipating. Katie had an IUD for years and ran into issues with her uterine lining which led to two cancelled embryo transfers.

“Dr. Shifren was really good at breaking everything down and calmly explaining my options,” Katie says. “She kept us focused on the big picture and was so persistent in trying different treatments to get my lining to where we need it for the transfers.”

Katie says that throughout their process, no matter the bumps in the road they encountered the entire team was amazing and supportive. Everyone—from Judy Shankman, RN, Dr. Shifren’s nurse, to the medical assistant who did her numerous blood draws, ultrasound techs and physicians she and Ed saw for her various surgeries and procedures—made the experience so much better.

In July 2019, Katie finally had an embryo transfer. When she visited the office for her second blood test (two are required to confirm pregnancy) she saw the same medical assistant who often drew her blood. That visit ended in hugs because Katie was pregnant!  

baby Annabelle
Katie and Ed welcomed baby Annabelle in April 2020

“Our daughter was going to be the first grandchild on both sides of the family,” Katie says. “We were going up to Maine to visit my parents after first finding out I was pregnant, one of those pregnancy apps said she was the size of a Maine blueberry; it was so perfect.”

Katie got to see Dr. Shifren again before she graduated to prenatal care. They celebrated and shared a big hug. They had spent so much time together navigating the various issues that arose throughout their fertility journey.  

Katie and Ed welcomed their healthy daughter, Annabelle, to the world in April 2020. They sent Dr. Shifren photos of her at Christmas and look forward to the day they can introduce her to the person who helped them conceive.

“It is such a joy to celebrate with patients as they graduate from the Fertility Center to prenatal care, says Jan Shifren, MD. “Katie and Ed persevered through the ups and downs of their fertility journey and I can’t wait to meet Annabelle.”

“We’ve already talked about another baby. We have a great level of confidence in the Mass General Fertility Center,” Katie says. “We know they’re good at what they do, and they’ll take care of us again.”