Co-workers rallying for couple in need in 2015

12/29/2014 11:00 AM |
Mike and Melanie Drozd have tried for two years for have a child. Now, they're hoping an egg donor can help them start a family. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Mike and Melanie Drozd have tried for two years for have a child. Now, they’re hoping an egg donor can help them start a family. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Twenty-five dollars might not have the buying power it used to. But when it’s multiplied, it can go a long way.

Indeed, it can help start a family.

Nearly two dozen employees at Riverhead Ford have each recently pledged to donate $25 per week for the next year to help a co-worker pursue her dream of having a baby.

Riverhead High School graduates Melanie and Mike Drozd, who now live in Mastic, have been trying to conceive for more than two years. Four artificial inseminations, four in vitro fertilization procedures and three miscarriages later, the couple is taking a very private struggle public in the hope that someday they’ll be parents.

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“There are so many people out there who are suffering who don’t talk about it,” Ms. Drozd said. “But it’s a big deal. The more I talk about it, the more people I feel also suffer from it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11 percent of women have reported difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a child to term and 6 percent of married women were diagnosed with infertility between 2006 and 2010.

Ms. Drozd falls into the latter category. Two months ago, she and her husband decided to use an egg donor to try to conceive, a procedure that can cost up to $40,000.

Ms. Drozd is thankful her health insurance has covered many of the procedures up to this point; out-of-pocket, in vitro can cost as much as $15,000, she said. But between deductibles, co-payments and prescription costs, the couple has still spent more than $8,000 trying to have a baby.

Jim Tuffy, a salesman at Riverhead Ford, spearheaded a fundraising effort to contribute toward the couple’s costs. Twenty of Ms. Drozd’s colleagues employees, and a few the GMC dealership next door, have agreed to donate $25 per week each throughout 2015. The funds will be deducted from their paychecks before they even see the money, Mr. Tuffy said.

At the end of the year, those donations will total around $30,000.

“The total seems a little high for us, but I tried to figure out the best way to do it without hurting anybody,” Mr. Tuffy said. “Everybody has their own bills to pay. But people were pleasantly surprised when I put it to them. I don’t know if this would have worked for just anybody, but when people knew who it was for, a lot of people wanted to.”

Using an egg donor requires harvesting eggs from a third party, fertilizing them with sperm — in this case, Mr. Drozd’s — and then implanting the eggs into Ms. Drozd.

“I would be pregnant, though it wouldn’t be with my genetic child,” she said. The procedure has a 70 percent success rate.

In addition to the weekly staff donations, the daughters of one of Ms. Drozd’s coworkers launched a fundraiser through the website GoFundMe that had raised over $1,000 as of last week.

The Drozds’ struggle with infertility has led to a lot of “draining and trying” nights in their household, Ms. Drozd said. She and her husband said they suspect many couples have the same issues but that infertility just isn’t discussed that often.

Maybe it’s too private. Maybe people are embarrassed by it. She’s not entirely sure. Either way, after two years of struggling to conceive, the couple is finished being silent.

“When someone says [they are infertile], it’s OK for you to talk about it, too,” Mr. Drozd said.

The couple said they’ve explored the possibility of adoption. But that is also expensive and can be exhausting and uncertain in its own right, Ms. Drozd said. And carrying a child herself was important enough that she wanted to give this procedure a shot.

It was important to her co-workers, too.

“I know it still may not work,” Mr. Tuffy said. “But it’s still worth the opportunity to do it.”