Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In vitro fertilization has 'meant the world' to Tampa Bay women battling infertility

Margie Romett remembers visiting Walt Disney World with her husband, Donald, during the years when they were trying to have children.

"There were times when I would see a child or a happy family, I would have to go behind a bench or tree and cry," said Romett, 40, of Sarasota. "I never thought we would have that."

But several years and in vitro fertilization treatments later, the Rometts are the proud parents of Faith, who is 2, and Ava, who is 5 months old today.

The girls are among an estimated 4 million babies born worldwide thanks to the work of British scientist Robert Edwards, who was honored Monday with the Nobel Prize in medicine for his role in developing IVF. The award comes 32 years after the birth of the world's first "test tube" baby, Louise Brown of Britain.

The significance of the news was not lost on families like the Rometts, or the doctors and scientists working to advance the field.

"This is a big day for us," said Dr. Shayne Plosker, director of the IVF & Reproductive Endocrinology program at the University of South Florida, and the Rometts' fertility doctor. "It's one of the amazing breakthroughs in medicine that we've experienced in our lifetimes."

Today, more than 300,000 babies around the world are born each year through IVF, which involves fertilizing eggs — either the mother's own or a donor's — in a laboratory dish and placing them back into the women's uterus.

Though medical advances have improved the success of IVF over the years, it remains a process that is costly both emotionally and financially. Most couples spend years and tens of thousands of dollars trying for a baby, with no guarantee of success. The success rate for the most ideal candidates, women under age 35, is about 45 percent, but pregnancies decline sharply by age 40.

IVF is unaffordable for many, costing more than $10,000 per treatment, and most insurance plans don't cover it. Plosker estimates that of the IVF treatments done by his department, about 20 percent are covered by insurance to some degree.

Romett, a part-time medical biller, and her husband, Donald, 36, a disabled Navy veteran, estimated they spent well over $50,000 on IVF. She worked full time while undergoing treatments to finance them.

Bobbie Itwaru, 41, of Tampa is among the few whose insurance covered part of the cost. She started IVF in 2004, and required 10 treatments over five years before she finally became pregnant. By then, the insurance had run out, and she and her husband paid $75,000 from their savings.

On July 12, she gave birth to twins Hannah and Haylee.

"It was a long journey," said Itwaru, an internal auditor for a local bank. "But we finally got our little miracles. In the end, it was all worth it."

She said she and her husband, Clifford Gideon, 54, who recently retired, probably would have adopted a child if the IVF treatments hadn't worked.

Though her twins were born preterm, at about 35 weeks, and spent some time in a neonatal intensive care unit, both are healthy now, Itwaru said.

Margie and Donald Romett were 28 and 24, respectively, when they got married. Margie Romett remembers people saying the couple had plenty of time to have a family.

After years without success, she learned she had polycystic ovary syndrome, a problem that can make it difficult to get pregnant. Their first IVF attempts were unsuccessful, costing them more than $9,000. But the next round of treatments worked. In 2007, Margie Romett became pregnant, and Faith was born on Feb. 4, 2008.

The couple's next attempt at IVF resulted in a miscarriage. But they decided to try one last time, and Ava was born on May 5.

"It has meant the world to us," Margie Romett said. "Without the science and the medicine, we wouldn't have realized that dream of having a biological child."

The family recently celebrated — at Disney World.

"We had an absolute blast," Margie Romett said. "Our family is complete."

Richard Martin can be reached at rmartin@sptimes.com.

In vitro fertilization has 'meant the world' to Tampa Bay women battling infertility 10/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 1:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  2. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  5. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.