One Florida fertility doctor refused to leave work despite Hurricane Irma's danger for a truly amazing reason—and it was all in service of his patients.
Hurricane Irma is causing devastation around Florida, and Miami's mayor ordered locals to evacuate the area to stay safe—but one doctor refused to comply.
Armando Hernandez-Rey, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist who works at Conceptions Florida, fielded calls from concerned patients when the storm began building—couples were understandably worried about what would happen to their eggs, sperm and embryos during the storm—after all, the specimens need to be stored in a very specific way, and it's natural to think destruction from the storm could destroy materials that are necessary for couples who are undergoing fertility treatments.
Dr. Hernandez-Rey reportedly took one particular call from a patient who had a single genetically-normal embryo stored and ready for implantation, and she was nervous the embryo would be ruined beyond repair in the storm.
The doctor reassured his patient, telling her that his office was set up to withstand such a disaster. “When we were designing the office and building it we very much took into consideration the propensity for natural disasters [and] hurricanes here in Florida. We have impact glass and alarms that go off should any of the embryos or sperm or any of the tanks lids be breeched," Dr. Hernandez-Rey told Parents.com. He also shared that the office has a generator that costs about $150,000 that's tied to the city gas, which runs underground, meaning it would likely remain untouched by the storm.
Still, Dr. Hernandez-Rey knew there was no guarantee that the samples would make it. "I decided to stay here because of the magnitude of the storm—I just didn’t want to risk anything happening," he said. The doctor stayed at the office until about 3 am, lining the perimeter with sandbags to protect the workspace.
"To our patients, family and friends, We are hoping and praying for Irma to turn away and spare us. However, like all of you, we have been preparing for a direct hit on Miami. Our top priority is taking care of the embryos, eggs, and sperm in the lab," the specialist wrote in a Facebook post on September 7. "Our lab is less than two years old so it was built to the highest hurricane standards. We have hurricane impact windows in the office and a generator inside a hurricane proof bunker that is directly connected to natural gas lines that run underground."
Dr. Hernandez-Rey's hard work made a difference: He is back in the office now, and he told us the power came back, there's no flooding, and all samples are safe.
Fertility issues can feel like emotional storms in and of themselves, and it's amazing to hear of a doctor who is so committed to helping his patients achieve their desired results. We're sending our best wishes to Dr. Hernandez-Rey and all his patients, who are obviously in extraordinary hands.