CLEVELAND – Two years ago, Eric and Brienne Alves of Akron, Ohio were told conceiving a child was against the odds.
“When you’re told there’s a possibility that you don’t have sperm, there’s a possibility that you won’t have a child, you sort of feel the shame,” Eric Alves recalled.
He was diagnosed with azoospermia, a condition causing male infertility. After meeting with several specialists, Cleveland Clinic urologist Neel Parekh, MD, offered hope.
“Infertility is a couple’s disease. 50% of the time there is male factor involved in infertility, so it’s not only the female side,” said Dr. Parekh.
After a year of testing and trying medications, the couple opted for a surgical solution called microTESE.
“They go into the testicles, they pull tissues and then they will look under a microscope and hope to find sperm,” explained Brienne Alves.
While Eric was in surgery, Brienne underwent an egg retrieval down the hall.
“As I was being wheeled over to wait for Eric in the waiting room, Dr. Parekh actually stopped me in the hallway to tell me that they had found sperm,” recalled Brienne. It was a really, really exciting time. I will never forget that moment.”
Four months later an embryo was transferred into Brienne’s uterus and then the best birthday gift Eric could ever imagine.
“I was hoping to give him a positive test as a gift and it worked out,” Brienne said.
“We realized what we had been dreaming of was going to happen,” said Eric.
Baby Noah is now seven months old. His parents say he’s an easy baby, but admit bringing him into the world wasn’t.
“I will be the first to tell you that it’s not easy,” said Brienne. “But I will also be the first to tell you that it’s worth it. 100% worth it.”
“Don’t give up. I would do it all over again if it meant to have my son,” Eric said. “You have to take a step back and realize just how much of a miracle he really is.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 9% of men in the United States are infertile.
Dr. Parekh adds that infertility, in general, is rising globally. He encourages couples to talk to their doctors, or seek out a specialist, if they’re struggling to conceive.