This morning at 7:23am Central Time, in Covington, Louisiana, a healthy baby was born to Rebekah and Glen Markham. The doctors deemed the 8 pound, 6 and 1/2 ounce boy, delivered by cesarean, to be in good health. The family’s many friends and relatives are thrilled.
The birth is remarkable because the baby came from an embryo stored in a hospital in New Orleans when that facility was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were left stranded and died in hospitals and nursing homes in the aftermath of the powerful storm. It was only through extraordinary measures that the embryos survived and were rescued after the storm.
Noah was stored as a frozen embryo, along with 1,400 others at the Fertility Institute of New Orleans. Embryos are kept in canisters filled with liquid nitrogen, which keeps them viable until chosen for possible birth. They must be kept at specific temperatures in order to survive. It was initially believed that none of the embryos survived. They were rescued about one week before the surrounding elements destroyed them.
But Glen Markham and his wife did not give up hope. Their first son, Witt, had been born from a frozen embryo, and they planned to have more children the same way. For in vitro fertilization, more than one embryo is needed since the incidence of miscarriage may be high.
A rescue mission headed by Dr. “Sissy” Sartor of The Fertility Institute of New Orleans and the clinic’s lab director, Roman Pyrzak, braved the dangers swirling in the wreckage to get to the facility and take any surviving embryos to safety. Ten law-enforcement officers, including Markham, a New Orleans policeman, traveled in flat-bottomed boats through the putrid waters. Their mission was successful.
Glen Markham did know for sure until two weeks after the storm that his wife and first son, Witt, were both safe and sound. By then, Glen had suffered through and witnessed the horrors that happened in the days immediately following the storm. One man from his unit was shot in the head trying to chase off looters.
Since the new baby survived floodwaters before he was even born, Noah seems an appropriate name. His mother says he was so named because, “God put it on his heart to build an ark.”
The Markham’s are not sure if they will have more children. At this point they have a very active toddler and a brand new baby to care for. They will consider the issue again when Witt and Noah have entered school.