Growing Families: Doctor offers IVF for first time in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Many couples dream of starting a family but it isn't always easy to get pregnant.

Now, a doctor in Wilmington is giving hope to couples who are having problems conceiving by offering in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the first time in the Cape Fear Region.

In the past, couples who wanted to try IVF had to drive to the Raleigh area or Charleston, SC, for the procedure.

Dr. Karenne Fru of Coastal Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility started with three couples as a proof of concept to get the procedure approved through New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

One of her patients gave birth in November. The other two are due in the coming weeks.

Zach and Tristen Dotsey tried for a baby for two years but when it didn't happen, they turned to Fru. Now, the couple is expecting twins.

The Dotseys say having to travel for IVF would have been an obstacle.

"The cost is substantial," said Tristen. "When you think of what you are paying the IFV center, plus gas and time and taking off work and hotel stays, it does make a huge difference that it's here locally."

Fru is excited to offer this procedure now in Wilmington.

"I think the most difficult thing that doctors peddle is hope," she said. "I take that responsibility very seriously because we have unfortunate outcomes as well as happy ones. But to be able to meet a patient that you shepherded through pregnancy and then meeting them when they finally have their baby in their arms, you realize you are creating people. Every success we have is a person. That has ripple effects throughout that community, maybe the world!"

For the Dotseys, IVF worked on the first try, but they also got a big surprise when they went in for their first ultrasound at six weeks.

"You do the first ultrasound and that's when we found out it was two!" Tristen said.

There was a one percent chance of the embryo splitting, giving the couple twins.

"We were in shock for the first week," Zach said.

"I'm still in shock," added Tristen.

So were their family and friends!

The couple will welcome two baby boys into the world later this month.

"I know it's going to be sleepless nights and lots of bottles and lots of diapers but it's a dream come true," Tristen said.

"Our friends will tell you we have this ridiculous kind of love," Zach said. "We make our friends sick. And the fact that we can have something - two somethings - from us to carry on means a lot to our story."

Fru says 10 percent of couples have a hard time conceiving.

That's why the Dotseys wanted to share their story. They said couples should not feel ashamed if they have fertility issues.

IVF can be pricey. It's anywhere from $10,000 and up, depending on the cost of medications and other factors.

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