Gift of Hope 2016

Gift of Hope 2016Jenean & Kirk Dugas – Staying Strong for Each Other

Baton Rouge couple wins Gift of Hope 2016 IVF grant, a free round of in vitro fertilization.

As a Lake Charles patrol officer and member of the SWAT team, Kirk Dugas is trained to anticipate all kinds and manner of situations and threats. Though his job is not as glamorous as film and television often portray it, at times it can be quite challenging. On any given day he needs to be ready physically and mentally to deal with accidents, injuries, abuse, crime and sometimes death. Interacting with victims of crime and families of lost or injured loved ones is difficult and painful, but it’s perhaps the most important part of his job.

Being strong emotionally is a large part of being a police officer, but Kirk is learning that it is increasingly important in his off-duty job of being a husband as he and his wife Jenean struggle with infertility.

Kirk and Jenean were close friends in high school, running on the track team together. He being a few years older, they lost touch after graduation, but a chance meeting one night out sparked more than a long lost friendship. They began dating and three years ago married.

Both are from big families with lots of nieces and nephews, so for Kirk and Jenean starting a family was just the natural next step. They planned to soon buy a house together for the family they would create together. But after several years of trying to get pregnant with no luck, Jenean visited her gynecologist and then a fertility specialist only to learn that her fallopian tubes were completely blocked, preventing pregnancy.

Her gynecologist also scheduled Kirk for a routine semen analysis. This test came back indicating low count and motility. The couple soon learned that in as many as 40 percent of all infertility cases, the cause is a combination of problems with both partners.

Jenean was saddened and worried with the realization that she would not be able to have children without significant medical help. Trying to unblock her tubes would require surgery and even that was not guaranteed to work. After the surgery, they could try lower cost fertility treatments like intrauterine inseminations, but with Kirk’s fertility issues compounding hers, even that came with very low chances.

With Kirk’s job as a patrol officer and Jenean’s job at one of the local casinos, the couple were daunted by the cost of medically assisted fertility treatments. Plus, their insurance doesn’t cover infertility so trying to have a baby was out of their reach financially. Spending a lot of money on treatments with low chances of success was just too much of a gamble for the couple.

IVF was the couple’s best chance of pregnancy

In vitro fertilization, they learned, gave them the best odds of a pregnancy. But with an average price tag of $15,000, all out-of-pocket, Kirk and Jenean knew they couldn’t afford it. This made them even more disappointed knowing that finances was the issue standing in their way of having a baby.

The stress of not being able to have a baby has taken a toll on the couple. Jenean tries to stay calm with the stress of not getting pregnant month after month. Kirk hoped that if they just kept trying it would one day happen. But, he feels letdown by his own fertility issues and disappointed that he can’t give Jenean the child they want to complete their family.

That’s when Jenean and Kirk heard about the Gift of Hope IVF grant and decided they had nothing to lose by applying. “We are so grateful for this chance to finally have a baby,” says Jenean. “My whole goal in life has been to get married and have a family,” adds Kirk. “We are keeping our fingers crossed that this works.”


IVF grantMargo & John Kitto – Patience Will Get Us There Together

Baton Rouge couple wins Gift of Hope 2016 IVF grant, a free round of in vitro fertilization.

When Margo Kitto was 5 years old, she packed her bags and walked out the door of her parents’ house. Confidently, she told her mom she was moving out and starting a family. Her mom giggled, turned her around in the direction of home and told her, “Be patient, you will get there.”

Margo and John met during their high school years and within a short amount of time it was clear they were meant for each other. Attending LSU together, they deepened their relationship over LSU football games in the fall, bow hunting in the winter, and fishing the Louisiana coast during the spring and summers. As college graduation loomed in their future, Margo kept asking John when they could marry and start a family, but he always said, “Be patient, we will get there.”

During this time and after suffering many years of severe menstrual pain, Margo discovered that she had ovarian cysts and Stage IV endometriosis. Over the next few years in between graduations, friends’ weddings, baby showers, and then her own wedding, she underwent three surgeries and lost her right ovary.

While saddened by her diagnosis and what it meant for their future family, Margo and John realized that while they were ready to start their family, getting pregnant would not be so easy. Seeking the help of Dr. Storment at Fertility Answers, they began with treatment and soon discovered that her tube on her remaining ovary was completely blocked by scar tissue from her endometriosis. IVF would be their only hopes of a pregnancy, but given John’s graduate school loans they decided they could not go further into debt. So, they put their heads together, crunched their budget and cut back on everything they could to save for IVF.

Throughout their 15-year journey together, Margo and John have stayed strong together, but their struggles with infertility have become increasingly difficult, especially as they watch close friends become pregnant and have children. Margo’s journey hit a low point when, in anticipation of her 10 year high school reunion, she opened a letter to herself she had written 10 years earlier. It read, “In 2015, I want to be: 1) Happily married to John, 2) In a house that we bought together, 3) With our two children.” Although she could not have been happier with the first two, the third broke her heart and affected her to such a point that she didn’t attend her reunion.

The couple believes that with patience they will be able to one day build their family.

Although Margo and John’s journey has been full of heartbreak, the couple say it has taught them valuable lessons including being more empathetic for others and taught them the value of sticking together as a team. More than anything, though, their struggles have helped them learn a deeper level of patience. They truly believe that if they stick together and remain positive they will one day enjoy the family they so badly desire.