NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, November 13, 2015, 2:55 PM
Roger and Kelly O’Shaughnessy Sponder pose with their surrogate, Jill Matzen, who carried their daughter, Laney.
Cancer was not going to stand in the way of her dream to become a mother.
Kelly O’Shaughnessy Sponder was diagnosed with cervical cancer three months after she turned 30. As a woman, she thought her chance to become a mom had been stripped from her forever when she got a hysterectomy in 2010.
But a Californian foundation came to the rescue.
Baby Quest Foundation has helped bring 16 babies into the world (with seven more on the way) by providing financial assistance to those who can’t afford the high costs of fertility treatments — including surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“I work with people who are in the midst of frustration and despair and lack of money because they can’t pursue treatment that should be available to them but isn’t,” Pamela Hirsch, founder of Baby Quest told the Daily News.
“I felt like it was a very unfair world which is why I felt like there needed to be a charity to do this.”
Hirsch, once a teacher and one of the original people involved in the Princeton Review, runs the foundation from the comfort of her home.
She helps families like the Sponders, who live in Los Angeles, California, to fill the gap between their savings — since most insurance companies won’t cover fertility treatments — and the total cost they need for a procedure.
“I’m just the facilitator,” Hirsch said.
Roger and Kelly Sponder (dressed in black) hold their daughter, Laney Spoder, with Jilly, their surrogate, and Jeremy (dressed in white).
“Im taking the money raised through donations and giving it to very deserving people.”
In the case of Kelly, she was unable to afford on her own the $ 50,000 she needed to find a surrogate who would carry her child. She and her husband Roger decided to apply for a grant with Baby Quest and won.
The Sponders now have a 6-month-old baby girl named Laney who has changed their lives in every way, Kelly says. Roger’s cousin, Jill Matzen, 42, offered to be Laney’s “tummy mom.”
“She’s definitely our miracle. She’s so amazing. I can’t get enough of her. She’s easy-going. She’s a happy happy baby,” Kelly said about Laney.
Kelly O’Shaughnessy Sponder was diagnosed with cervical cancer three months after she turned 30. Laney was born via a surrogate.
“Jill will always be my cousin, Laney’s tummy mom, but more importantly one of our best friends,” Roger added.
Infertility is a common problem in both men and women.
There are about 1.5 million married women between 15 to 44 who are infertile, according to 2006-2010 data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
Experts say that the most common fertility problems include blocked tubes, poor egg quality, abnormal semen, and endometriosis — a condition that occurs where tissue normally located in the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
Alexis Joy Price, daughter of PJ and Kelly Price born on August 19, 2015
“Fertility is a huge topic of discussion. It is not uncommon for a family to spend a college tuition on just getting pregnant,” said the director and founder of New Hope Fertility Center, Dr. John Zhang.
“It’s genetically coded into our species to reproduce. Sure, many people choose not to, but those who do and can’t? It is devastating at fundamental levels.” Zhang said.
For the Price family, another recipient of the Baby Quest grant who live in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, it would’ve meant five years of saving to be able to afford the $ 8,000 IVF treatment they needed, their costs totalling nearly $ 20,000.
Paul Price “PJ” suffered from a condition called anti-sperm antibodies, which impedes fertilization, and Kelly Price was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder in women, putting them at a 0.5% of ever conceiving naturally.
The dream of PJ, a war veteran and Kelly, a teacher, to become parents came true with financial help for IVF from Baby Quest. Here they pose with baby Alexis, one day old.
Even with IVF, they only had a 40% chance of Kelly getting pregnant. Until one day she stumbled upon Baby Quest online.
Without giving it too much thought, she applied placing her very last hope in the nonprofit. They now have their bundle of joy, Alexis Joy Price, who was born on August 19.
PJ, a war veteran and Kelly, a teacher, say they couldn’t have done it without the financial help they generously received.
“Baby Quest makes dreams come true just when you think it’s impossible,” Kelly Price told the Daily News.
The grant deadline is Nov. 18.
Up to eight families a year benefit from the grants awarded two times yearly.