Following fundraiser, Riverhead couple receives gift of life — twice

Drozd twins

Some risks in life, despite how challenging they may seem, are just worth taking.

For Riverhead High School graduates Melanie and Mike Drozd, that risk was creating a life. And — with the help of Ms. Drozd’s co-workers at Riverhead Ford and some others at a nearby GMC dealership — that risk ended up being well worth it.

Close to two dozen people contributed a total of more than $30,000 to help the Drozds, who now live in Mastic, purchase eggs from an egg donor.

After four artificial inseminations, four in vitro fertilization procedures and three miscarriages — all of which occurred before the fundraising effort even began — Ms. Drozd gave birth to twins Maxwell Ford and Callen Gary Drozd on April 22. They were born three minutes apart.

“Sometimes you start to give up a little bit, ya know?” Ms. Drozd, 35, said this week. “But it was amazing. It still brings tears to my eyes.”

[Related: Co-workers rallying for couple in need in 2015]

The couple tried for more than two years to have children before turning to an egg donor in 2014. They wouldn’t find one until the following September. The procedure involved fertilizing the eggs with Mr. Drozd’s sperm and then implanting them into Ms. Drozd.

Two eggs were implanted, just in case one didn’t take, so the two knew from the start that twins were quite possible. But, based on past experience, they also knew that having no children was possible. The procedure has a 70 percent success rate, Ms. Drozd said.

“We were always hopeful, but of course we have this sense of fear the entire time,” she said. “We can’t help but worry.”

Because the process is so much less expensive outside the New York metro area, they traveled to North Carolina last October after finding an egg donor.

One day while Ms. Drozd was at work, she received a voicemail on her cellphone. She knew who it was: She had already asked the doctors to let them know the results of the procedure via voicemail. But she waited until she got home to listen to the message with her husband.

She still has the voicemail on her phone.

The couple had previously agreed to share their story publicly because, as Ms. Drozd said in December 2014, “There are so many people out there who are suffering who don’t talk about [infertility]. But it’s a big deal. The more I talk about it, the more people I feel also suffer from it.”

The same remains true after her pregnancy, she said.

The man who organized the fundraiser for the couple, salesman Jim Tuffy, was able to convince others to donate in a relatively simple way: Rather than donate one lump sum to the couple to help pay for the procedure, he suggested weekly $25 donations deducted from their paychecks — for an entire year. Some people who left the company after originally pitching in even came back to donate, he said. The process raised over $30,000. In total, according to Ms. Drozd, it cost between $35,000 and $38,000 to have her twins.

Mr. Tuffy, a former basketball and softball coach in Mattituck, has become well-versed in the ways of raising funds for good causes. He’s helped bring teams to Walt Disney World, San Diego, Texas and elsewhere — all with help from others pitching in.

Now, he’s happy to have helped achieve another win.

“Everybody here is happy,” he said. “Even then we were always nervous, but we all feel good for Melanie.”

During the process, Ms. Drozd received an extra egg in case the first procedure failed. She now plans to donate it in order to help another couple achieve their dream.

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Photo: Mike and Melanie Drozd with their newborn twins, Maxwell Ford and Callen Gary Drozd, who were born three minutes apart April 22. (Credit: Courtesy)