WEST HARTFORD — This Thanksgiving a West Hartford couple is especially thankful for their small family, since it was a difficult and emotional road to conceiving their twins. High school sweethearts Emily, age 36, and Jim Cornacchio, 35, had always imagined having children one day. Little did they know, that a Connecticut nonprofit would play such a large role in bringing their children into the world.
At the age of 31, Emily was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that attacked her ovaries. “Autoimmune associated premature ovarian failure can be part of a cluster of autoimmune diseases (Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome) that can cause your body to attack endocrine organs, including the ovaries. Premature ovarian failure, in general, has a prevalence of about 1 in 1,000 women in Emily's age range, but we're not sure what the rate is when caused by an autoimmune disease,” said Jim.
Emily’s doctor gave her the difficult news that she had already gone through menopause and that her chances of having a baby were one in a million. Heartbroken, the couple then began exploring options with their doctor.
During menopause, the ovaries stop producing hormones, but the uterus remains functional. Hormones are given to replace what would normally be produced by the ovaries to support the early stages of pregnancy. When the placenta begins to produce its own hormones, supporting hormones can be stopped.
Because Emily didn't have any viable eggs, she was fast-tracked to receive a donor egg. After a short wait, a donor egg was found, and Emily became pregnant. But tragedy struck and she miscarried after eight weeks.
Her doctor then suggested an embryo transplant, also known as in vitro fertilization.
“The risk of miscarriage for embryo transfers is similar to the risk of miscarriage for a non-in vitro pregnancy. With IVF, there is an increased risk of multiple births (we had twins, which we knew was a possibility) and a small risk of ectopic pregnancies. There are additional risks associated with egg retrieval, but we're not familiar with those, because we used an egg donor,” said Cornaccio.
At this point, the Cornacchio’s funds were nearly depleted and no fertility treatment coverage was offered by their insurance carrier. They still needed an additional $5,000 to $10,000 to pay for all the expenses related to an embryo transfer.
That’s when Emily discovered The Nest Egg Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Norwalk, that provides an opportunity for those struggling with infertility to receive access to treatment through financial grants.
“The number of grants vary per year — it depends on the amount available in our budget, and how many grant candidates we have. The Nest Egg Foundation has awarded 14 grants and seven babies have been born to families in need of financial assistance since 2015,” said Dana Gilland, president of the Nest Egg Foundation.
“Funding has come from private donations, fundraising through the Birdies for Charity golf event, and other initiatives. This year we have a new Ryder Grant donated by Wesport resident Amy Overman and her husband Chris who never thought egg donation was something they’d ever have to think about, let alone live through. At 38, Amy struggled with infertility. For six long years, Amy and Chris tried every treatment imaginable. After 13 failed cycles, including IUI and IVF, Amy was forced to read a chapter of her infertility book that most people often skip — egg donation. After finally finding success through a donor egg and giving birth to a beautiful son, Ryder, Amy wanted to give back and help others. She discovered The Nest Egg Foundation and donated a 10K grant in the name of her son Ryder. This will be the first year the Ryder Grant will be given,” said Gilland.
Emily applied for the grant and received it. All of the Cornaccio’s medical expenses for the embryo transfer were covered. It was a rousing success. The Cornaccio’s twins, Hailey and Benjamin, were born in August of 2017 at 37.5 weeks, are both healthy and recently celebrated their third birthday.
For more information on the Nest Egg Foundation visit www.nesteggfoundation.org/.