See ASRM press release on managing infertility therapy. Infertility is isolating and traumatizing on its own. With the COVID-19 spread now a pandemic, people dealing with infertility and other family building challenges face new questions. Read on for some answers:

COVID-19: Suggestions On Managing Patients Who Are Undergoing Infertility Therapy Or Desiring Pregnancy

As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads around the world and throughout the USA, our professional community and policymakers, and the public in general, are seeking advice regarding how to manage patients who are undergoing or who are planning to undergo infertility treatment.

Currently, very little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on reproduction and pregnancy. There are reports of women who have tested positive for COVID-19 delivering babies free of the disease. (1,2) This data is reassuring but must be interpreted with caution given the small numbers. Other forms of coronavirus (3, 4) have been linked to increased adverse outcomes during pregnancy, but data specific to COVID-19 is not yet available. It should be emphasized, however, that coronaviruses are unrelated to the ZIKA virus, which had very clear implications for pregnancy and fetal development. Given the information we do have, while it would be wise for individuals with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 infection to avoid pregnancy, there appears to be no cause for alarm for those already pregnant.

Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, patients who have high likelihood of having COVID-19 (fever and/or cough, shortness of breath, and either exposure within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 patient and within 14 days of onset of symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test result), including those planning to use oocyte donors, sperm donors, or gestational carriers, should strive to avoid a pregnancy. If these patients are undergoing active infertility treatment, we suggest that they consider freezing all oocytes or embryos and avoid an embryo transfer until they are disease-free. Please note this recommendation does not necessarily apply when there solely is a suspicion of COVID-19, because symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to other more common forms of respiratory illnesses.ASRM/SART recommends that all its members and their staff be familiar with the travel guidance on a daily basis as provided by the CDC as it is anticipated to change frequently.   (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html)  This advice applies to both men and women. Patients who have been traveling long distances for their care should also consider obtaining copies of their medical records in case they need to transfer their care to a local provider.

ASRM and SART remain concerned that travel restrictions due to the virus may cause intended parents who are using a gestational carrier not to be able to join their newborn in a timely manner. Consequently, we strongly encourage all intended parents and the legal professionals, organizations, and programs that facilitate these arrangements to promptly take the necessary steps to identify families that may be so affected and develop contingencies in the event that these babies need to be cared for following their birth. ASRM/SART member clinics who work with gestational carriers and intended parents are requested to reach out to their patients and those organizations and programs who facilitate gestational carrier arrangements to encourage them to ensure that these steps are taken.

Finally, all reproductive health care professionals and their patients are encouraged to follow instructions from state and local health departments and stay abreast of the latest guidelines and updates issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) websites regarding evolving developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional information can be obtained at:

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Welcome Johanna!

Hasidah is delighted to welcome Johanna Meckel as our new Outreach and Development Coordinator. Johanna joined Hasidah with appreciation for its mission to help people in the Jewish community who are facing challenges building their family. She has worked at Hillel and Stand With Us and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position. Johanna will be developing Hasidah’s Baby Registry (Double Chai) program and building awareness about family building challenges in the Jewish community.

Welcome Johanna!

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Hasidah has opened a new cycle and is currently accepting applications for in vitro fertilization (IVF) grants and loans. Funding is available for people in the Jewish community, throughout the United States, who require IVF in order to have children and need financial assistance for treatment. The deadline for applications is Thursday, March 30. Interested parties should visit https://hasidah.org/financial-resources/grants-and-loans/ for application information.

Hasidah is the voice of hope and compassion that raises awareness of infertility, connects people to support, and reduces financial barriers to treatment in the Jewish community. Now in its third year of operation, Hasidah has previously completed four cycles of funding for families combating infertility in the Jewish community. The organization also offers support networks for struggling families, advocacy training for clergy and online resources of news in the fertility realm.

Hasidah is the Hebrew word for stork. The root of the word (Hesed) means loving-kindness. Hasidah was founded on the belief that one of the greatest gifts of loving-kindness is helping couples struggling with infertility to become parents. Hasidah believes that Jewish families are the core of Jewish life and children are the source of our future, and therefore is dedicated to the work of addressing infertility, financially supporting treatment, and promoting awareness in our community. Building Jewish families is existentially important for our future. Hasidah understands that having Jewish children is a birthright and the community has a responsibility to help make that happen.

Contact: Rabbi Idit Solomon, (415) 323-3226, Idit@Hasidah.org

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Many in the Jewish community imagine building their family and the magical moments along the way. For some, however, having a child is difficult and those magical moments fade and are replaced by strains of saving for medical treatments or adoption expenses.

In a joint effort between The RedStone and Hasidah, three grants have been awarded in the Washington DC area Jewish community to help alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with medical interventions or adoption expenses.

To be fruitful and multiply is considered the first Jewish commandment in the Torah. Much of the Jewish community is organized around families and children. Wanting to have a child and facing barriers can therefore be not only personally challenging, but quite isolating as a Jew. The RedStone, led by Amy Jablin Forseter, provides support groups and community programs to build awareness in the Jewish community and give support to those facing fertility challenges. Rabbi Idit Solomon founded Hasidah, a national organization that also builds awareness and works to establish national network of support resources and focuses on financial assistance for those needing in vitro fertilization in order to build their family.

“We were fortunate to have received funding to pilot this program in the DC area and are really pleased to be able to provide help for both adoption and fertility treatments, ” shared Forseter. “We know from our work in the community that having a Jewish response to this issue means a lot to those we help.”

“Fertility challenges are much more common than people imagine,” said Rabbi Solomon. “The Jewish community has focused a lot of resources towards keeping families involved and affiliated. The RedStone and Hasidah are focused on the important need for building the Jewish families in the first place.”

One of the grant recipients received funding to help defray medical expenses for fertility treatment. The other two received funding to help with adoption, one of which just moved to the next step with a healthy birth.

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FINAL CALL FOR APPLICATIONS!

Co-sponsored by The Red Stone and Hasidah, four $500 grants for individuals and couples in the Washington DC area for fertility and adoption related expenses are available. Applications can be downloaded at www.theredstone.org and are due November 2 (paperwork from doctors/adoption agencies can come later). Email amy@theredstone.org with questions.

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Hasidah organized the first National Jewish Infertility Network teleconference on September 3, 2014 .  The goal of the first conversation included identifying the challenges and opportunities for infertility support in the Jewish community and outlining underlying issues to address in the Jewish community with regards to infertility. The conversations included lay leaders, Jewish professionals, and representatives from organizations including including The Red Stone, Uprooted, Priya, and New York Jewish Free Loan Society.

Hasidah’s threefold focus (awareness, network navigation and financial assistance) was developed with change in mind: awareness leads to more interest and resources, which helps develop a network of support and provide financial assistance for medical treatment. Another outcome we seek in the area of awareness and networking is the empowerment of those interested in making change in the Jewish community in regards to infertility and raising the level of conversation and action surrounding infertility. It was with that in mind that the first National Jewish Infertility Network teleconference was established. The group will be meeting again to continue the dialog in early October.

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Hasidah is pleased to announce that we have officially begun piloting our funding program in Columbus, Ohio. We awarded our first grant to help pay for infertility treatment this spring. The couple has both fertility and genetic needs for IVF. They are working closely with us as we put all of our planning to the test and help make Hasidah stronger for all future couples to benefit.

In addition we have been receiving a steady stream of calls for support, information and referrals. From speaking to someone who has been through infertility treatment to asking advice about how to choose a clinic to seeking support while deciding to do IVF or not, people call us for help. We have also reached out to potential partners and been promoting our cause by writing and speaking about infertility in the Jewish community.

Fundraising needs

With the launch of our pilot program in Columbus, our first grant creates the need to start raising money for clients and our operations. Each IVF procedure can cost from $10,000 to over $30,000 depending on what is involved. Our goal is to start fundraising forward so we can have money available when clients are in need and to be able to plan our future   work building awareness and developing a support network. Please consider a generous gift today to help build Jewish families.

We have moved

Hasidah’s office is now located in the San Francisco Bay area. Our email, phone and address are current on the website. We will continue to support the Columbus community and are planning to expand our services into the Bay Area soon.

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We are thrilled to be launching our website and beginning the work needed to establish the Hasidah Foundation. There are many support groups and resources for people experiencing infertility, but we are starting with a simple focus – financial support for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).  The Jewish tradition values family building highly and for many people the financial roadblock to benefit from ART can be insurmountable.  We want to help.

This blog will provide updates about our progress as we establish Hasidah and share insights into the world of infertility and treatment.

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