BOSTON, Mass. — Caity and Ryan Sebastian were married in October 2016. At the time, Ryan was battling a rare form of bone cancer that spread throughout his body.
Ryan was diagnosed a year and a half earlier, just before his 26th birthday, while they were living in California. “Marriage wasn’t even on our radars, yet we had been dating since college and kind of putting it off. Kids certainly weren’t on our radar, but it became on our radar very quickly,” Caity said.
That’s because they had just two weeks to decide if Ryan wanted to become a biological father because chemo would likely impair his fertility forever. The Massachusetts natives conserved Ryan’s fertility by freezing his sperm, but insurance didn’t cover it. They paid out of pocket, which cost them thousands of dollars.
Massachusetts has had a fertility coverage mandate since 1987, but it does not include the preservation of a patient’s sperm, eggs or embryo before they undergo treatments that could damage fertility. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Kevin Honan and State Sen. Cynthia Creem, is now working its way through Beacon Hill and would include that. “To potentially make that decision in such a short period of time as well as come up with the funds that would allow them to move forward with this decision can introduce an element of stress and pressure that really is incredibly unfortunate and burdensome for someone to have to think about while they are already facing a challenging diagnosis,” said Dr. Christine Skiadas, a reproductive endocrinologist at Atrius Health.
Caity got pregnant after IVF. Baby Charlie was born in 2017, 6 weeks premature. Ryan passed away just 9 days later, shortly after his 29th birthday. “Getting to be a dad, getting to die knowing he was a dad was a gift only given to us because we conserved his fertility in those two weeks where we had to make this decision,” Caity said.
Every New England state has a fertility preservation law, except Massachusetts and Vermont. If passed, Massachusetts would be the 13th state to require insurance companies to provide coverage.
The bill has made it favorably out of two powerful committees and now is in Senate Ways & Means Committee, but to become law it needs to pass both the senate and house by July 31st.
If you’d like to learn more about fertility preservation, here are some resources: https://www.fertilitywithinreach.org/fertility-preservation/ and https://resolvenewengland.org/.
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