Genes make people, but people make families.
It wasn’t until after the loss of their first child, Landry, at just six weeks, and the birth of their second son, Lincoln, that Katee Mura and [husband name] were both diagnosed as carriers of a rare genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). While Katee was undergoing IVF treatments at UCSF CRF to try for another child, she was also fighting to get proper care for Lincoln, who has SMA Type 1, after being told he wouldn’t live past 6 months. Now, he is sitting up and saying words at two years old – milestones nearly unheard of for any child with the disease.
After nearly three years, Katee is pregnant with her third child. Though the journey to grow their family took many unexpected and challenging turns, their incredible resiliency reinforces our team’s commitment offering comprehensive patient support – from IVF treatment to genetic counseling to third-party family building options.
"We came to UCSF CRH after visiting other fertility clinics, and from the moment we met Dr. Martha Noel, we knew we were in the right place. While we were still grieving the loss of Landry and the loss of a "normal" life for Lincoln, we knew we still wanted to try for another child. Dr. Noel treated us with compassion and understanding. She was empathetic to our loss and to the fear and challenges we were facing with a son with SMA. She discussed all our options and never pushed us in any way.
We went through two and a half years of IVF treatments – over 13 cycles of medications and 7 egg retrievals. During my treatment, Dr. Noel always worked with me, explaining each decision and option for each cycle, tried different combinations of medications, and truly worked hard to see us be successful. She was incredibly gentle and compassionate when our embryos didn't make it or were inflicted with SMA. Dr. Noel was always quickly responsive and never made me feel like I was in this alone, or that I was just a number.
I saw many other doctors and nurses at UCSF CRH, all of whom treated me with kindness and were always rooting for me. As were Dr. Noel's care team. Everyone wanted to see our dreams come true of expanding our family.
After the last few failed egg retrievals and with my age nearing 45, we had to make the decision to either continue to move forward to try and get an embryo without SMA or consider a donor egg. While it was difficult to wrap my head around a baby that wasn't "mine", we knew we wanted another baby and a younger sibling for Lincoln, and it was the best decision for our family. We picked a donor and got pregnant with our first embryo transfer. We are beyond thrilled and knew we wouldn't be here today if we had chosen another clinic or hadn't met Dr. Noel.
We look forward to the arrival of Lincoln's little sister and we are so grateful to Dr. Noel and the entire team working with her. A shout out to the genetic counselor who gave us the best advice and helped me come to terms with carrying a donor egg: "Genes make people, but people make families." This little girl is all mine — ours — and our family is now complete."