Crozer Nurse is Surrogate for Cousin - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 06, 2014

Crozer Nurse is Surrogate for Cousin

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Aubrey Proud
(610) 447-6171

November 6, 2014 (Upland, PA) –On Nov. 4, Crozer-Chester Medical Center nurse, Erin McKenney, gave birth to healthy twin boys weighing 7 pounds each. What is unique to the birth is that she served as a surrogate for her cousin who was battling breast cancer metastasis to the brain.

Twins were born from a surrogate Crozer nurse in November.

Parents Candice and Ryan Ismirle (standing)
with newborn twin boys Rafe Michael and Ry-
der Craig, and Candice's cousin, Erin McKen-
ney, Crozer nurse who was twins' surrogate.

In the fall of 2010, Candice and Ryan Ismirle were living in Washington D.C. and thinking about marriage and both Majors in the United States Air Force. Then their world turned upside down. Candice was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) that October, a breast cancer sub-type that doesn’t grow in response to estrogen, progesterone, or HER2/neu and has no current targeted treatments available other than traditional chemotherapy.

When the couple received this diagnosis, they moved into action. They decided to freeze embryos knowing that they wanted children in the future. Candice and Ryan married in a private ceremony on November 5 and soon afterwards Candice had a double mastectomy and started chemotherapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

For close family members, news of cancer can be very difficult. This was certainly the case for Erin McKenney when she learned that her first cousin Candice, who is the same age, was about to face the challenge of her lifetime. McKenney is an RN and a staff nurse at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, and with her clinical knowledge, she understood that she needed to provide her support, compassion and love for both Candice and Ryan.

Following six months of chemotherapy in the first half of 2011 and continued recovery through the remainder of the year, Candice received the good news that she was cancer free and in remission. With Candice’s improved health, the couple planned a wedding to include family and friends and celebration on June 2, 2012. Shortly afterwards they started to think about having a family, and were putting their lives on a path toward becoming parents.

In the summer of 2013, Candice shared with Erin that she was having difficulty getting pregnant. During their conversation, Erin let Candice know that she would be willing to be a gestational surrogate should she ever be willing to consider this.  At the time, they considered this a “Plan B” between the two cousins.

A few months later in September, Candice had a seizure and through medical tests at Walter Reed, she learned that her cancer had in fact metastasized into her brain. Her situation became more serious and her health deteriorated as she underwent full brain radiation and aggressive chemotherapy treatment. Candice and Ryan spoke about Erin’s offer to serve as a surrogate, and the next time that Erin came for a visit, Candice asked her to be the surrogate mom. Erin said yes.

On Feb. 28, Erin was successfully implanted with two embryos on the first try and had tested positive for pregnancy on Mar. 11. Candice was concluding her chemotherapy and she was motivated by the pregnancy of Erin. She transitioned into a maintenance chemotherapy program with routine checkups to monitor her progress.

In early April, test revealed that Erin was carrying twins. Sharing this exciting news with Candice, they all laughed about the fact that Erin had a “hunch” about carrying twins knowing that Ryan is a twin as well.

For the duration of the pregnancy, Candice’s health continued to improve with several clean CT scans. Erin was successful in reaching 38 weeks of the pregnancy by staying active with her own 4-year old, Molly. It is Molly who provided a wise perspective to the common question of when Mom is due. When a stranger or friend would ask, Molly commented, “There are two boys in there, but we’re not keeping them. We’re giving them to Aunt Candice and Uncle Ryan.”

On Nov. 4, Erin gave birth to Rafe Michael Ismirle, 7 lbs 15 oz, and Ryder Craig Ismirle, 7 lbs 4 oz. David Ginsburg, M.D., a Crozer-Keystone obstetrician with Suburban OB/GYN, performed the c-Section at Crozer.

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