WEST JORDAN — Paige Zuckerman and her husband, Ryan Dillin, have already picked out a name.
"It's going to be a little blue-eyed brunette girl first," Dillin said. They've also picked out the decor. "We decided we were going to have a space-themed nursery," Zuckerman said.
But those dreams are on hold.
After trying to conceive for a year, the West Jordan couple got devastating news during the holidays. "So Merry Christmas, you're infertile," Dillin said. Zuckerman agreed, "Yeah, it was a bomb drop."
But it wasn't just infertility. Doctors dropped another bomb. "You've already gone through menopause," said Zuckerman, who is only 31. "A piece of my story had been taken away from me. It just felt like a really unfair, unjust hand of fate."
"What tore me apart was seeing her cry," Dillin said. "I never saw her cry like that before. I'm a fixer, I fix things, and I can't fix this."
The dozens of bottles of medicine on Zuckerman's kitchen counter help her hang on to hope. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," she said.
Likely the only way Zuckerman can conceive is through in vitro fertilization with a donor egg. But a new procedure shows an 80 percent chance of an embryo implanting, as opposed to only 20 percent to 50 percent in the past.
It's called preimplantation genetic testing, or PGT. Dr. Robert Anderson, a fertility specialist with the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine, says it reveals the same information from an embryo before implantation that you'd get from a fetus after an amniocentesis.
"Now we can test all the chromosomes in every embryo and only use the ones that are normal, and we only have to put in one," Anderson said.
The studies of preimplantation genetic testing compared to tradition in vitro fertilization show success.
"Overall pregnancy rates went up 97 percent," said John Whitney, an embryologist who conducted the study. "We were very confident that the technique was safe, it was producing what we thought it was producing, and it was helping patients achieve pregnancy quicker and easier."
Preimplantation genetic testing virtually eliminates multiples. "Those babies are always premature," Anderson said. "There's lots of complication for the babies as a result of that, and it's higher for the mothers."
Preimplantation genetic testing adds about $5,000 to the cost of in vitro fertilization, but they say with a higher success rate, it's more cost-effective.
Zuckerman and Dillin say it sounds appealing. For now, the play set in their backyard is empty. "Now it continues to sit, unused, waiting for kids," Dillin said.Comment on this story
"We're climbing Mount Everest," Zuckerman added.
The couple that loves to hike together is determined to reach their summit. "I refuse to lose faith that it's going to happen for us," Dillin said.
Researchers are now looking into more ways to perfect in vitro fertilization. They say in the next few years they hope to get the success rate closer to 100 percent.