Spinal Cord Injury Fertility Video: Enrique's Story

Enrique and his wife solicit help from fertility specialists

For more information: Find a Sharp-affiliated physical therapy physician or Sharp-affiliated OBGYN. Or learn more about Sharp's Spinal Cord Injury Fertility Program.


Enrique: 2:56 water broke. Enrique, get ready. Let's get going. So here we are.

Bertha: Dilated almost to a 3. I feel another contraction coming. Feel right here hard.

Dr. Danny Keiller, Urologist: We looked at our spinal cord injured population of males, and realized that hardly any of them were becoming fathers after their injury, and we think that's an important part of life and so we started a program.

Lynne Beresford: I first met Enrique and Bertha in 1995. We were starting up this program and presented the idea to them and they got really excited for the possibility of becoming parents.

Enrique: I always saw myself as a family man, we get married, have kids, have a house.

Bertha: It never crossed my mind that I would date anybody in a wheelchair, no, just happened. We had that bond.

Enrique: I've been in the chair for, I'd say, 29 years.

Bertha: I mean he's a true gentleman. He'll open the door for a lady; he doesn't let anybody open the door for him. Everything that I could ever ask, he's got it.

Enrique: We were happy together, but there was a little something missing in our lives and that was kids.

Tomilyn, RN: Enrique, I'm Tomilyn, wonderful to meet you. So a little earlier than expected, huh?

Enrique: Yes it is.

Dr. Keiller: Enrique had been a patient of mine for several years before we started trying to help them with fertility issues. Fertility levels fall as time elapses after spinal cord injuries.

Lynne: It's not always just the male that has the issues with fertility.

Enrique: We're at the hospital. Everything's OK, so don't worry. What a morning.

Lynne: We were figuring out how to get genetic material from Enrique, also how to properly implant Bertha. It took 13 years of increasingly complex reproductive therapies before they had their first child.

Enrique: It was a miracle. We got Ivan, we got Ivan.

This is big brother right here. Mommy...

Lynne: When Enrique was injured his parents probably thought they'd never be grandparents and they are.

Tomilyn: And this is a boy or a girl?

Bertha: This is a girl.

Tomilyn: That's perfect. Everybody wants a boy and then a girl. Perfect.

Bertha: Another one is just more than we could ever ask for.

Tomilyn: Did you have a contraction now? That was a strong one. She's actually originally scheduled for induction but she came in because she ruptured. Husband is paraplegic. So in vitro is how they conceived.

Dr. Arlene Morales, Reproductive Endocrinologist: These are embryos. These are four individual embryos, and then we grow them for up to five days in the laboratory. This is what's called a blastocyst. It has placental cells already and this is later on day 5, it actually hatches out of its shell. And then we check a pregnancy test. That's our big day.

Lynne: I have a little smile on my face and I tell different people, OK pray today this is their baby-making day.

Enrique: Focusing on the end result will get you there, just thinking about what you're going to have at the end, in your arms.

Dr. Morales: It does take a village to raise a child. Probably in the birth of these children at least 35 to 40 people are involved in all the steps along the way.

Lynne: With our spinal cord couples they have joked in the past, there's a lot of people in our bed helping us to make a baby.

Enrique: I had a three-wheeler accident, ended up with a complete spinal cord injury, a T-10, and 11. It's just like it was yesterday. I was 21...21.

Dr. Bastuba: One of the typical situations, with a fairly high spinal cord injury is that it affects the ability to give sperm out of the body. The most high-tech approach is where we actually go into the male's body and retrieve sperm surgically.

Tomilyn: We're just going to give you a little bit of Pitocin to kind of help make your contractions a little bit closer together.

Lora, RN: Here at Mary Birch we deliver over 8,500 babies a year. The work that we do here is really special.

Bertha: Oh. (breathing, moaning)

Lora: Sometimes all she wants is her mom or her sister to just stand there and hold her hand. We do that for them as well, but it's different when you have your mom.

She said she wanted you, her mom and her aunt in the room for the delivery.

[NAT AUDIO] She is complete and plus 1 to plus 2, and she said she didn't push long with her first baby.

Lora: Are you excited?

Bertha: Yeah.

Lora: Yeah?

It's very cool watching the dads. That's one of the first things I do once the baby is born, is to look at the expression on his face.

Dr. Bhoomi Brahmbhatt, OBGYN: And we're ready to go. Bertha, when you have your contraction next, we'll tell you when to push.

Lora: So when you feel that pressure you let us know, OK?

Dr. Brahmbhatt: Oh, she's having a contraction.

Lora: You're having a contraction, ready to push? Go for it. Deep breath in, and push. Push, good...

Dr. Brahmbhatt: Two, three, four. Push, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Good. Bertha, take a deep breath for me. Take a deep cleansing breath. When you're ready, take one deep breath in and push with all your might. Good. Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Good. Right back at it. Baby is right there. Oh push, push, push, push, push.

Bertha: Oh my God. [over talking]

Nurse: [Baby crying] Happy birthday!

Ready to cut the cord, Dad?

Nurse: She sounds awesome.

So what's her name?

Bertha: Emma Victoria.

Enrique: Emma my choice, Victoria her choice. Hi, Emma Victoria. Hi, baby. Welcome.

Lynne: A full life is possible after spinal cord injury. A full life.