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Real-life “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” turn to surrogacy after beating death sentence

After a fight with ulcerative colitis and prognosis of one year to live, Rachel and Ross Pfeifle have done just about everything they can to start a family of their own and now, things are coming to fruition.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:11 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Almost 400,000 babies are born each day around the world but of the thousands of couples working to expand their families, many are afflicted with problems conceiving.

Many women plan a future where they can create and carry a baby of their own but according to the CDC for 1 in every 8 couples, getting pregnant poses challenges.

“There’s a host of challenges that can occur for somebody who’s trying to get pregnant and is having difficulties,” said Dr. Rochelle Christensen of Rapid City OBGYN. “15% of all couples have problems getting pregnant. Of those, about 30% have what we call, unexplained infertility.”

“It is really hard to put into words the disappointment you feel when you’re told you can’t easily conceive or easily carry a child like every other woman seems to be able to,” said Rachel Pfeifle.

For the Pfeifle’s, life hasn’t been simple.

Just months after beginning their journey together, Rachel was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis.

The prognosis? One year to live.

“To get that diagnosis at 24,” said Rachel. “I thought my life was over.”

But 7 years and 6 major surgeries later, Ross and Rachel were ready to finally start their life together.

However, due to Rachel’s extensive medical history, getting pregnant the old-fashioned way wasn’t happening, so the couple turned to doctors, specialists, and even back to the place that saved her life, Mayo.

“I kept bugging Mayo and emailing ideas and procedures, why can’t we do this or that, and at the end of last year, they called us and said ‘Rachel stop calling us, everything you’re asking us to do, is never been done before.’ We were both like, so?” continued Rachel.

“You’re the mayo clinic,” added Ross. “You’re who you go to to find something that hasn’t been done before.”

Finally, Mayo gave in and assembled a team that performed a history-making procedure to retrieve and fertilize one of Rachel’s eggs.

Now, they’re in the process of screening surrogates and working with Mayo to approve one of the handfuls that have offered.

“Surrogacy is kind of a last resort from what I’ve seen. I’ve only had a handful of surrogates that I’ve taken care of over the years and again, the price tag is one of the biggest obstacles,” said Christensen. “Surrogacy is when a woman uses her uterus to grow a couple’s baby. That sounds simple, but it’s not.”

Infertility treatments can cost thousands of dollars, surrogacy can reach $100,000.

Ross and Rachel are just $19,000 away from covering the costs of a surrogate, using Go Fund Me to help with the process of saving and fundraising.

“If a couple has problems getting pregnant, it can be very expensive to have their first child or any child. Even some of our more similar ways of getting might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” continued to Christensen. “If we have difficulties getting pregnant with the more simpler methods, it gets way more spendy when we need to be more technically advanced.”

Christensen says the largest factor in infertility is age but other factors include certain medical treatments.

For these real-life “F.R.I.E.N.D.S”, the reality of screening potential surrogates means their dream of having a baby of their own is one step closer to reality, with the gift of a bundle of joy in their arms a potential possibility for Christmas 2022.

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