For the media

Decade-long fertility journey to baby and good health

By The Health News Team | August 23, 2023
Barbara “Lorraine” Harrington at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns

“The doctors at Sharp are very much in tune with a patient’s future fertility needs, and they’re supportive every step of the way,” says Lorraine Harrington.

Lorraine Harrington’s fertility journey with robotic surgeries began nearly decade ago at Sharp Mary Birch for Women & Newborns. And as she approached her 40th birthday, Lorraine, a registered nurse and advanced clinician at Sharp Memorial Hospital, wanted to have the procedure that would give her the best chance of conceiving a baby. She would get a myomectomy, she decided, a surgery that removes fibroids, noncancerous tumors that grow in the uterus.

“I’ve had a large fibroid for 20 years,” Lorraine says. “It never caused me pain, but I wanted to get this procedure proactively since I’ve always wanted to get pregnant and have a baby.”

The procedure was successful. But the next year, an ultrasound detected a large 10-centimeter mass rapidly growing in her uterus. “At first, I didn’t know whether it was cancerous, so I was very scared,” Lorraine says.

Fortunately, the mass, a fibroid, was benign. After consulting with Dr. Afshin Bahador, a gynecologic oncologist affiliated with Sharp Mary Birch, Lorraine received a robotic laparoscopic surgery. By using a small tool called a laparoscope in the da Vinci surgical device, Dr. Bahador was able to perform this minimally invasive procedure and remove the fibroid without making large incisions.

Barbara “Lorraine” Harrington and Dr. Afshin Bahador at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns

Lorraine Harrington and Dr. Afshin Bahador at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns.

Two years later, after yearning for a baby for many years, Lorraine finally got pregnant.

“My husband and I were looking into alternatives, like intrauterine insemination, because my infertility specialist said I only had two potential eggs left due to my age,” Lorraine says. “But miraculously, on my 40th birthday, I conceived naturally.”

Because Lorraine already had two procedures on her uterus, she did not want to risk tearing during delivery. To avoid such tears, she gave birth via cesarean section.

“Delivering my miracle baby at Sharp Mary Birch was an amazing experience,” Lorraine says.

Her journey continues

Happily enjoying life with her husband and precious daughter, Lorraine assumed her fertility journey ended there. However, after giving birth, smaller fibroids began growing again in her uterus.

“In the last five years, I grew extremely fatigued,” Lorraine says. “My periods became extremely heavy, and I developed anemia, which occurs when your blood lacks enough healthy blood cells.”

Unfortunately, an endometrial ablation — a procedure that destroys the uterus lining — was not an option, since Lorraine already had two surgeries on her uterus and a C-section. Also, despite taking medication to help with her heavy periods, the issue persisted. The medication, if taken for a long time, increased her risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, which causes blockage in the pulmonary arteries.

In June, after having explored all her treatment options, Lorraine decided to undergo a hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus, via a minimally invasive procedure performed by Dr. Bahador. “I was never nervous, and I completely trusted Dr. Bahador, who is so calming, reassuring and helpful,” she says.

After recovering in the hospital for just two hours, Lorraine went home and was later able to return to work. She credits these two reasons as to why she prefers a minimally invasive procedure over traditional surgery.

A milestone for Sharp

Lorraine‘s procedure was the 7,000th robotic surgery performed at Sharp Mary Birch, a particularly timely achievement. Sharp HealthCare was recently recognized as a Network of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation.

“These are very significant accomplishments,” says Dr. Bahador. “I feel honored and proud to be part of the robotic surgery program at Sharp Mary Birch. I feel like it is best robotic program in San Diego, considering the quality, organization, number of surgeons and number of procedures we’ve performed.”

Lorraine echoes Dr. Bahador’s sentiment and expresses gratitude for completing her fertility journey at Sharp Mary Birch. “The doctors at Sharp are very much in tune with a patient’s future fertility needs, and they’re supportive every step of the way,” she says. “I am happy that I work for Sharp and also have gotten to be a patient here.”

Learn about minimally invasive surgeries for women at Sharp Mary Birch.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Bahador about this story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

You might also like:

Get the best of Sharp Health News in your inbox

Our weekly email brings you the latest health tips, recipes and stories.