Each year, the United States records close to 12,000 spinal cord injuries. As of 2009, there are close to 262,000 Americans living with paralysis according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Of that number, 81 percent are men.
This leaves an interesting question: can men with spinal cord injuries find love, produce offspring, and start a family? The answer is “yes” and the numbers might be higher than you would imagine.
The majority of spinal cord injuries happen to men, right in their reproductive prime.
The study says that most men who experienced a spinal cord injury were between the ages of 16 and 40, unmarried, and in the right phase of their life to produce children. But as one man would tell you, finding a girl to date, let alone to marry, seems like a wild dream if you’re paraplegic.
The man was paralyzed in an accident when he was 25-years-old. His neck was broken after getting pulled into shallow water by a friend. He has been in a wheelchair ever since the accident caused his spinal cord injury in 1995. He never imaged that ten years later he’d end up meeting the woman of his dreams and making her his wife.
That woman shared his dream of creating a family of their own, but was worried about two things after they married. One, the woman was almost 40 and most women’s fertility declines after they reach 30. Two, there was his spinal cord injury, which has a history of creating erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction, as well as inactive sperm.
Fertility experts reassured the couple that men with paralysis do conceive children on their own, using the method of in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, this is a very expensive process and can be a financial strain for families trying to deal with the cost of living with a spinal cord injury already. This technique — artificially inseminating women with their partner’s semen sample — has been used for decades, but it is an often long, emotional process that has no guarantee of working.
This is because IVF requires a few hundred thousand to one million active sperm in order to fertilize a female egg, a number that is usually hard for men with spinal cord injuries to achieve. However a new form of IVF has “leveled the playing field” for men with these problems. Now, physicians can extract sperm from a man’s testicles and inject a single sperm directly into a woman’s egg in order to fertilize it.
The couple went through all of this. Seven failed insemination. Two failed in vitro fertilization attempts. Two years of tries and fails. It was not until their 10th shot — using the new IVF treatment — that she would get pregnant with the man’s child.
On December 4, 2009, the couple welcomed their daughter into the world and their family. They know it is a rough road ahead — raising a family is not easy, especially when one parent is confined to a wheelchair — but if this couple could beat the odds in getting pregnant, chances are they feel fairly confident about building a solid future of their children and their family.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, we urge you to contact our bilingual offices as soon as possible following the accident at 1-858-551-2090 or please click here for a free consultation with an experienced San Diego spinal cord injury lawyer. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe us nothing until we recover money on your behalf.