Dr. Schoolcraft Talks Helping Giuliana & Bill Have a Baby
Giuliana Rancic would certainly not be where she is today (cancer-free and with child!) if it weren't for Dr. William Schoolcraft, the founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Denver. It was the fertility specialist who urged the E! News host to get a mammogram, which led to the early detection of breast cancer, and encouraged her and Bill to consider gestational surrogacy. Read on to see what the doc had to say about helping the couple with their quest for a baby.
How long have you been Giuliana and Bill's doctor?
I've been their fertility specialist for a little over a year now. They failed with IVF for the first two attempts in Chicago. When those attempts didn't work, they sought me out in Denver. They tried IVF once with me—and it worked.
What were some of their concerns when you first met with them? How were they holding up at that time?
They wanted to become parents and were frustrated that they didn't have answers as to why they had failed up to that point. Any time you go through that rigorous of a treatment and it fails a couple of times, it starts to wear you down. I could tell that they were frustrated by their lack of success and were ready to be successful. But they were very down-to-earth people. I enjoyed them personally.
How do you feel about being the catalyst to Giuliana discovering her breast cancer early and ensuring her survival? How often is it the case that your patient is diagnosed with breast cancer after being screened?
It validated our policy. We require patients who are going through fertility treatments over a certain age to get screened, and the discovery of Giuliana's breast cancer emphasized why we have that policy. It turned out to be a great benefit to her. It's always good to see when your system works like it is supposed to, because a mammogram had never been suggested to her before. However, it's rare that my patients are diagnosed with breast cancer after I urge them to get a mammogram. Out of 100 patients, it's one or two who have that scenario. It's not the norm.
How did you get G&B to open their minds to the possiblity of having a child via a gestational carrier?
I emphasized that, after having failed several times before, I was very optimistic about the quality of their embryos and the fact that it was just going to work. That was a big positive. I wanted her to know that she was going to be successful and that a baby was going to come from them. With her breast cancer diagnosis, we needed to do what was safest for her health. We wanted a baby, but we also wanted a healthy mom. I told them that a gestational carrier is a way that they can have both. I said, It's your baby. It's your egg. It's your husband's sperm. Nothing's changed. You're just having someone help you for 9 months. Giuliana really thought that made sense. So, we did the IVF and implanted the embryo into the gestational carrier. I didn't have any doubts regarding the transfer.
What was the waiting period like for you after the embryo was transferred? How difficult was it?
Everyone puts a lot of energy into a cycle and, obviously, you have to wait about two weeks to find out if the woman is pregnant. It's most difficult on the patient, of course. But everyone, including myself, had hopes and anxiety.
How did you feel when you told the couple the good news? What do you remember about their reaction?
I was just happy for Giuliana and Bill, as I am with all patients who have finally had success. They had failed cycles and I know how hard it was for them to even build up the courage to even try again. I was happy to see that IVF worked for them this time, so they wouldn't have to keep going down that road of failure. They were just beyond words. It was the end of their journey. They had tried other doctors in other cities. I remember them saying something to the effect of "OK, finally! All this work has paid off and we're going to be parents." It was amazing.
How is the gestational carrier doing today? How far along is she with Giuliana and Bill's child?
The gestational carrier is doing great. She's past 20 weeks now, so about half way through. We're almost there.