Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dad with CF Beats Infertility

I got this article off a friend of mine's blog regarding CF patients and the fact whether or not to have kids. It's a long article, so I'm just going to summarize it. But I highly recommend clicking on the link above and reading the entire article!

"I was also told there was a 99 percent chance I'd never have kids,” he says. “I'd been told that pretty much my whole life."

Today, he is happily married with two children, 9-year-old twins Bradley and Sadie

That Brad and his wife, Pam, were able to conceive children at all is a lesson in perseverance, and the possibilities of modern medicine. They both wanted children, and had discussed it prior to marrying in 1997. The odds were not in their favor. About 95 percent of men who have CF are infertile due to an abnormality of the vas deferens, the vehicle by which sperm is carried from the testes to the urethra.

As Pam tells it: "We went to Brad's physician and told him we wanted our own biological children. We were told it wouldn't happen."

The decision to have children is not one the Hildebrandts dwell on. Asked whether she had considered the fact that she could one day be a single parent raising her children, Pam responds, "Not really. I don't think about it. He's healthy. We live day to day."

Dr. Bruce Marshall, vice president of clinical affairs with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Bethesda, Md., says the foundation, whose work has been critical in advancing life expectancy for CF adults, does counsel adult patients on the decision to have children: "We remind them of the great rewards of child-rearing, but also remind them that they may not live to see their children full grown."

Of course, raising children can be fraught with anxiety for any parent. But doing so while dealing with the physical and emotional complexities of a genetic disease like CF brings some unique challenges to the CF adult. "There has been an amazing shift in the demographic," says Marshall. "Nearly half the CF population are now adults. So it is not just a pediatric disease anymore. CF patients are doctors, firefighters and, as in Brad's case, softball players."

(This is a quote from my friend Brandi): "What amazes me is that these people fail to realize that while there are mutations in the genome that cause disease (like Cystic Fibrosis), those same mutations also PROTECT people from diseases such like cholera. People were much more likely to die from cholera a hundred years ago due to lack of available treatment, and those that had the "flaw" of having CF or being a carrier of CF seemed to have some protection. I guess that is just one reason (among many) that we humans are still here on planet Earth."

For me, I have always dreamed I would have kids, and haven't really thought of having my life any other way. I believe God will bless me with kids and a husband when the time is right. I will pursue all methods possible to conceive kids naturally (meaning not adoption, etc.). However, if God leads me towards adoption, then I will be happy with that too.

People have asked me why would I want to run the risk of bringing a child into this world, only for him or her to have CF. It's hard to explain. I think about what would have happened if my Mom decided to not have any more kids after me. I wouldn't have a wonderful brother! What if the child I bring into this world DOES NOT have CF? There is a good chance it will be perfectly healthy as this article depicts. If my child has CF, then I will consider it a blessing from the Lord and use my knowledge and experiences to raise that child the best I can. I'm not going to NOT bring new life into this world. And I'm not going to pursue alternative means just to make sure I don't have a child with CF or any other genetic disease for that matter either.

And then to add to things...while I still run a greater risk of not being able to become pregnant due to CF, I will be putting my body at an even greater risk since I've had a transplant. But that is a whole new post in itself.

I know MANY CF Moms and Dads today who chose to have children. And they are WONDERFUL parents! And so far, none of their kids have CF.

I just can't even imagine NOT having kids!