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Gabrielle Giffords' New Book Reveals Her Remarkable Story
Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her amazing recovery will be featured on the ABC news program "20/20" with Diane Sawyer on Monday night, November 14. It is the first time that Giffords will speak publicly about her rehabilitation from a gunshot injury to the head she only had a one in 10 chance of surviving.
Gifford's story is also recounted in “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," a personal and detailed look at the months since the January 8, 2011 attack at the Tuscon, Arizona, shopping center. The book, set for release on November 15, is written by Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. In it, he chronicles her rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, revealing her determination in relearning everything from simply nodding her head to walking and talking — as well as her painful realization that people had died on that fateful day.
Also revealed: Giffords, 41, had undergone several rounds of fertility treatments over the last few years and had hoped to get pregnant in early 2011. According to the new book, the couple had high hopes that they would become parents. Giffords had turned 40 in 2010 and was in excellent health; however Kelly — a divorced father of two — had a vasectomy, and surgery to reverse it had not worked. Kelly writes in the book.
"So Gabby and I enrolled in a program where my sperm was mixed with eggs that were harvested from Gabby, who'd been taking fertility drugs. We hoped Gabby would be pregnant by Valentine's Day."
Giffords had an appointment scheduled with the fertility clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital on January 10. It's a poignant detail in this compelling story of determination.
The success rates following vasectomy reversal are between 50 to 70 percent with natural intercourse, and it takes on average one year after a vasectomy reversal for pregnancy to occur. However, this time frame can vary. Factors include sperm parameters - count, motility (movement) and morphology (shape) - following the reversal, and the length of time since the vasectomy was performed. The female partner’s age also needs to be taken into consideration.
If sperm are present in the semen after the vasectomy reversal, but pregnancy does not occur, then sperm from the male partner's semen may be retrieved via "sperm aspiration" and IVF with ICSI can be performed.
According to the CDC, in 2009 there were 9.845 IVF cycles at U.S. fertility clinics for women age 41-42 using their own eggs. Of those, 12.4 percent had a live birth. There were also 1,378 frozen IVF cycles for women in that age group, and a 21.9 percent live birth rate. Egg donation is an increasingly popular option for women in their 40s who are unable to conceive with their own eggs.
It is unclear whether Giffords and Kelly will be able to pursue their dreams of building a family. But one thing is clear: Giffords is a symbol of strength and determination — and an inspiring story of hope — for all women and men facing adversity in their lives. The book includes a final chapter written by Giffords — a single page of short sentences and phrases called “Gabby’s Voice.” “I will get stronger. I will return,” she wrote.