PennWatch recently interviewed Dr. Melissa Esposito, who sees patients in SGF’s Mechanicsburg, PA office, and Lesa and Brennan Brackbill. The Brackbills are former patients who went through IVF and genetic testing in order to have healthy babies after suffering the tragic loss of their daughter. Read the full story below:
In 2014, Lesa and Brennan Brackbill of Hershey, PA welcomed a healthy baby girl named Victoria. Everything was great then everything changed. Tori stopped smiling when she was five months old. Lesa said, “Victoria became increasingly irritable and regressed in all milestones including talking, laughing, playing, smiling. She couldn’t eat. She would vomit everything.”
Victoria was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a genetic disorder with no cure and little hope. In one fell swoop, the Brackbills got a double dose of horrible news. “They told us Krabbe was not treatable. That Victoria would pass away before she was 2 years old and, because it was genetic, we should not have more kids naturally. It was too much all at once. It was devastating because we had always planned to have more children,” said Lesa.
Then the Brackbills heard about new technology from other Krabbe parents. They could try to have more children with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and have the embryos genetically tested to avoid having another baby with Krabbe disease. The Brackbills found that Shady Grove Fertility offered genetic testing and tried it a few years after Victoria had passed away at 20 months. The screening is called PGT, short for Preimplantation Genetic Testing.
Heartbroken over the loss of their daughter, the Brackbills were overjoyed to hear IVF and the genetic testing worked. “I’ll never forget the day Dr. Esposito said we were having twins! The boys are healthy. Joy is the only word I can think of because they look like their sister. We see her in them every day.”
“I can’t even describe it without getting teary-eyed. Seeing these two healthy babies and knowing that I played a little part in it, it was just amazing,” said Dr. Esposito.
Dr. Esposito says doctors can now screen an embryo and test it for nearly 200 genetic diseases. She encourages all of her couples to undergo genetic testing and if they refuse, she has them sign a waiver.
“I tell my couples the testing doesn’t help their fertility, but it helps ensure that after going through all the heartache of infertility and all the treatments and the cost, this is another step we can take to ensure you get pregnant and have a healthy baby,” explained Dr. Esposito. “If you have the ability to possibly prevent a horrible disease in your baby, wouldn’t you want to do that?”
The Brackbills still have healthy embryos and plan to try for more children before the end of the year while never forgetting their little girl. “Victoria will always be a part of our lives. We have pictures of her everywhere. We are grateful for our 11-month-old twin boys and plan to tell them all about their big sister when they are older,” said Brackbill.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Esposito or another SGF physician, please call our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or complete our online form.