As Hurricane Irma bears down on South Florida, more than 650,000 Miami-Dade residents have been ordered to leave their homes and businesses.
However, one fertility doctor refuses to leave his clinic in Miami as he wants to protect frozen eggs, sperm, and embryos which are housed there.
Reproductive endocrinologist Dr Armando Hernandez-Rey knows his patients are very worried and concerned as the storm approaches.
Dr Hernandez-Rey told HuffPost Parents that he’d had more than a dozen calls to his clinic Conceptions Florida from patients to check if their frozen embryos or sperm and eggs would be safe during the hurricane.
Many of his patients are in the middle of IVF cycles at the moment.
The doctor received a call from one worried patient who said: “Listen, we’re heading out. We’re leaving, but I’m really wigging out about my one embryo”.
“I told her, we’ve got a $150,000 generator in the building, our building is built like Fort Knox, we’ve topped off all the tanks with liquid nitrogen.
“So even if we lose the generator, we’ve got enough liquid nitrogen (to keep frozen specimen viable) for two weeks,” he said.
“But anything can happen. I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving with the possibility that something could go wrong”.
Thankfully, the clinic has hurricane-impact windows and Dr Hernandez-Rey has stocked up on sandbags to protect against flooding.
After evacuation orders were issued, Dr Hernandez-Rey took every precaution possible to make sure the clinic would be safe.
He remembers how doctors at NYU had to scramble to save frozen embryos after a power cut caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Another concern for him was that some of his patients had donated sperm samples prior to beginning chemotherapy treatment which could render them infertile.
He wanted to ensure their samples would not be lost if there was a power outage or damage to the building.
“They stored with us to preserve their fertility. If we lose that, they’ve got none left,” he explained.
He and his wife and their two children will be staying in a hotel room, 15 minutes from the clinic.
Reflecting on the hurricane’s approach, he said: “I think we’re going to be OK. I think the city’s going to be in shambles. But I’ve got to protect what’s in the tanks”.