Gift of Hope 2017

Jordan & Daniel Allen – Already Parents in Their Hearts

Lake Charles couple wins Gift of Hope 2017 IVF grant, a free round of in vitro fertilization.

As a girl growing up, Jordan played two things: house and school. For hours at a time, she could be found comforting babies, cooking supper, and balancing the tough job of being a teacher to a class full of Beanie Babies. In her mind, she could do all three tasks at once.

Years later, she is doing two of those things. She is a teacher and often takes on the role of cooking dinner as well. But when she and her husband Daniel sit down for dinner, they are struck by how many empty places there are around their table. At night, the spare bedrooms are quiet and empty and her floors are always clean.

Jordan and Daniel met in 2014 and married less than 8 months later, both knowing that they were meant for each other. To save money for a home for their future family, they moved into a tiny apartment at the top of a barn. All the while, Daniel was personally building their home after working all day as a teacher. They decided to wait to have children because there simply wasn’t enough room to raise a child in their tiny dwelling. With less than nine months to go before they could move into their new home, Jordan went off birth control. And then, nothing.

After months of nothing, they started to worry about their chances to get pregnant, so they started looking for answers. After a lot of testing and frustrations, they received the diagnosis of male factor infertility. Over the next year they would have four failed ovulation induction cycles. The next logical step in treatment is in vitro fertilization, a treatment that is out of their reach financially on the salary of two teachers.

Jordan and Daniel are kept going by their faith and the thoughts of their future children. “We could be overcome with sadness, but we choose joy,” says Jordan. “We choose joy when other people conceive, and we share joy at the thought of our future world-changers that we teach daily.” Their profession of teaching has been silently preparing them for how they plan to raise their own children.

“In our hearts, we are already parents,” says Jordan. “We just need a baby to make the dream come true.”

Kaitlyn & Jared Guzzardo – Getting a Second Chance After Cancer, Personal Tragedy and Natural Disaster

Baton Rouge couple wins Gift of Hope 2017 IVF grant, a free round of in vitro fertilization.

At 21 years old, Jared Guzzardo faced the biggest challenge of his life. After being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, tests revealed a softball-sized tumor inside his chest and he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Months of chemotherapy and radiation followed, but proactive steps initiated by Jared’s mom ensured the future of his children: she arranged for Jared to freeze his sperm prior to his treatments.

Fast forward a few years when Jared and Kaitlyn met in October 2013. “I still remember the feeling I felt the day we met; it was like I had known him my entire life,” says Kaitlyn. “He is my rock and makes this world a better place.” Kaitlyn at the time was on the verge of completing nursing school. She had just met the man of her dreams, had a strong support system of family and friends and believed nothing could go wrong.

However, a month later, her mother was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive and lethal neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The diagnosis was devastating for Kaitlyn who was extremely close to her mother. But a year later, more hardship rocked her family when her older brother died from a drug overdose. Then, four months after her brother passed away, Kaitlyn’s mom succumbed to ALS.

The loss of her brother and mother made Kaitlyn’s world feel like it had stopped. For months she felt numb all over and prayed daily for peace and happiness to come back to her. Then Jared asked her to marry him one night surrounded by family and friends in the place they first met. The proposal and subsequent planning for their wedding helped lift her up and helped her learn to celebrate life and be happy again, because what really mattered was the people they loved in their lives.

Two months before their wedding, tragedy in the form of a natural disaster presented Kaitlyn and Jared with yet another setback. The Great Flood of 2016 filled their rented home with three feet of water, destroying everything they owned. Seeing all their belongings that they had worked so hard for stacked up in a pile at the street taller than their house was hard to take. While losing everything was difficult, they once again learned that what was truly important was the safety and love of family.

Jared is now five years cancer free, but the chemotherapy and radiation has made him unable to father a child. Without the foresight of his mother concerned about her son’s future, this reality would have been final. But with frozen sperm, Jared and Kaitlyn now have a path towards pregnancy and child of their own. “He is a true warrior,” says Kaitlyn, “and he has taught me how to battle through the worst and make the best out of life.”

gift of hope ivf grantRachel & Matthew Gayle – High School Sweethearts Ready to Welcome a Baby

Zachary couple recipients of a Gift of Hope IUI

Rachel and Matthew’s story begins in the halls of Zachary High School in 1999. High school sweethearts, the couple married in 2005 and started thinking about having a family. They tried to conceive on their own for a few years and in 2008 decided it was time to consult with an expert and made an appointment with her OB-Gyn. He gave them clear guidelines how to increase their chances of conceiving and using over-the-counter ovulation kits. With their new-found knowledge they tried a little longer on their own, but after a year of no success they knew they needed to explore their issues further.┬áSeeking the help of a local infertility specialist, the Gayles decided to try intrauterine insemination, which proved unsuccessful.

In 2010, they decided to get a second opinion. This specialist gave them news that rocked them to the core. He told them that according to Matt’s semen analysis there was a “slim to none” chance that they would conceive on their own or with IUI. After consulting with a male infertility colleague, this specialist stated that his sperm’s morphology was too low and that their only option to conceive was IVF with ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection in which a single, healthy sperm is injected directly into the egg for fertilization. The total price for the procedure and medications, the doctor told them, was roughly $20,000 and when did they want to start? Totally shocked, Rachel and Matthew knew they couldn’t afford that and decided to scrap the whole of idea of trying to have a baby than on their own. They were instead praying for their miracle baby, hoping God would come through for them in His time.

After five years of no pregnancy, Rachel and Matt decided again to consult with an urology expert in male fertility in 2015. This doctor stated that while Matt did have a low morphology rate, it wasn’t detrimentally low and he didn’t see a reason why they could not conceive through IUI or even on their own. He recommended that they be looked at again by an infertility specialist and this led them to Dr. John Storment and Fertility Answers. Dr. Storment agreed with the urologist and they attempted another IUI which was unfortunately unsuccessful. At this point, however, the Gayles had drained their finances so they put their hopes for a baby on hold again.

After 8 years of trying to conceive, Rachel and Matt still believe their chance will come. God’s plan will come through for them and maybe there were reasons God has made them wait for a child so long. Through their years-long struggle, both Rachel and Matt have furthered their educations, with Rachel obtaining her RN license and Matt back in school. With advanced degrees helping them be more successful in life, they feel more ready to welcome a child into their home.