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Celebrate Triumph of Science, Life
By Diana Fatima
JOLIET — Sunday was a day to celebrate miracles. That is why 75 families were invited to gather at the Barber and Obermann Horticulture Garden in Pilcher Park.
All the families were made from couples who know that the child they hold in their arms or on their laps would not be here today without the help of Dr. Marek W. Piekos and the staff at Reproductive Health Specialists of Joliet.
Connie and Mike John of Shorewood brought their 9-week-old son, Matthew Michael, to the picnic. "We've waited for this day a long time," Connie said.
The Johns had been trying to have a child on their own since 1996. Finally they turned to the medical community for help a couple of years ago. That is when they discovered that Connie needed to have surgery and be treated with infertility drugs in order to conceive. Connie's doctor recommended that she consult Piekos. The treatments culminated nine weeks ago with Matthew's delivery.
Connie said that she was pleased with the caring and personal treatment she received from Piekos, and that she was especially impressed with the Reproductive Health Specialists' staff.
She hugged nurse Kim Courtright, who had been beside her throughout her entire ordeal, often administering many of the treatments. "Kim is an angel from heaven," Connie said.
Courtright acknowledged that infertility treatment can be stressful. "Not only are the procedures stressful, but the patients are under a lot of emotional stress. Everyday they see babies. They see teen-agers having babies, and they don't know if they ever will."
Courtright said she believes an important component of her job is supplying emotional support for the patients, encouraging them to stay with the program, despite setbacks, until they realize their dream of a new child.
Piekos said people come to reproductive specialists for many reasons. Some couples are having trouble conceiving their first child. Others are hoping for a child at a later stage in their lives and need help overcoming certain conditions brought about by age. His practice specializes in treating endocrine dysfunction and many different causes of both male and female infertility, including endometriosis and menopause.
Until Reproductive Health Specialists opened its doors three years ago, couples could not find treatment here and had to go to Chicago, Piekos said.
Judie Mirous, the clinical director, said that in the past three years the clinic has grown to serve almost 200 couples and has opened a satellite office in Melrose Park.
Cindi and Dennis Goren of Joliet say they have Piekos to thank for both of their sons, even though only one of them was actually the result of fertility treatments.
Cindi has been an obstetrics nurse for 17 years and has helped many other women bring their children into the world. She said she was never sure if she would have one of her own until her son Kyle was born weighing slightly more than 4 pounds in May 1999.
"He was born two months early. But he came home in six days," she said. Then three months later, Cindi spontaneously became pregnant with Conner. "They say pregnancy can really change your whole body," Cindi said with a laugh.
"I feel do blessed to have two sons," Cindi said. "I still cry whenever I see a baby born. Now that I know the special feeling that comes with it."
Guy and Jill Mangialardi of Romeoville had been trying to conceive for more than a year before they saw Piekos. They already have an 11-year-old but wanted to add another child to their family. A year later their son, Dominic, was born.
Courtright agrees. "(Fertility treatment) can be the best of times: it can be the worst of times," she said. Whatever the experience, Courtright said that she and the rest of the staff do become connected to all the couples and children that pass through their clinic.
"We gather to celebrate the success of the program," Piekos said.