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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 October 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 OCTOBER 2016 3 NEWS "Soon after I went to Greece I got pregnant for the very first time. That was last October," Joeanne sobs. "I had never gotten pregnant before, no matter what we tried, for those 10 years. "I fell pregnant straight away. I had a miscarriage when we returned to Australia. It was a great blow, but the hope I was given by that pregnancy made me try again two months later. There were days I couldn't move because my sugar levels were too high, but I kept pushing through. I still wonder if it's true sometimes but when I look at my little baby's face I know that I would never give up. It's the most real thing I've ever felt." For the second pregnancy, the Friggieris extended their stay in Greece, to ensure the embryo had implanted and was growing normally, before returning Down Under. As much as they would have liked to stay in Greece for the duration of the pregnancy, as they admitted, Joeanne was in need of ongoing medical check-ups and treatment for her other conditions. "I can't even begin to describe the amount of happiness and euphoria the baby has given us, and all our efforts and struggles make perfect sense," says Brandon. "I need to say this and I don't care," he insists. "Both Dr Lolatgis and Dr Pantos are cutting edge. Not just in terms of technology, but they feel your pain and are prepared to do anything to alleviate that, to help you get what is medically possible to achieve without putting your health at risk. Moreover, the quality of service we got in Greece, the level of the medical staff's knowledge ... it does not compare. "We don't feel it's an exaggeration to recommend going straight to Greece to anyone who's experiencing this kind of issue in Australia, or anywhere in the world for that matter." That's when little Charli is brought up to room 5A in Mercy Hospital's maternity clinic, wrapped in a pink blanket and wearing a matching onesie. Less than a week after her arrival and she's ready to go home for the first time. Meanwhile, Dr Con Pantos is waiting at the other end of the line, looking forward to receiving photos of little Charli before the family are released. "I share the parents' joy and I feel proud I was part of Charli's journey," he tells us over the phone. "This couple's adventure is more than moving. We are talking about a woman who was fighting to stay alive as hard as she was fighting to become a mother. She is probably the first woman − regardless of the rest of her serious health issues − that achieved motherhood after two liver transplants. An undeniable milestone, a victory that can boost Greek doctors' efforts and ongoing research in the field." President of the Athens Medical Association, George Patoulis, also congratulated the happy couple. "As a doctor, I understand the battle you went through to save your life and at the same time appreciate your ordeal to finally achieve pregnancy and have a child, which you so much deserve," he told the Friggieris. "I sincerely wish you both every happiness and may you see your child grow up to your expectations. As president of the Athens Medical Association I would like to congratulate you on all your efforts and want to declare how proud we are, as a country, to have stood by you and to have successfully contributed to the final achievement of your dream come true." "We just want to say a big 'efxaristo' to the doctors," Joeanne says, bursting into tears. "Thank you from the depths of my heart. "To the people who choose the IVF path and experience difficulties in getting pregnant, all I want to say is don't give up! If they could help me get pregnant with all those health conditions, there is hope for you, too. Don't give up on your dream. I look at this gift I've been offered and I can't believe it. I'm so grateful for everything I've got and I feel more motivated to start over than ever." Some think it will be hard to start over now with a baby in their lives, but for the happy couple, Charli's arrival is their main incentive to take life head on and tackle their health issues. "I'll start over. We can start from scratch again," Brandon says, hugging his wife and daughter. "It was costly, yes, but we can't put a price on the life we hold in our hands. Words cannot describe how we feel and how indebted we are, but at the same time motivated and determined to make it; we have now the strongest incentive." For Brandon, who has a thing for Greek mythology, if there is a god for fertility, it's Dr Pantos. Relying on the support of his family for a little while longer, he hopes to be able to stand on his own two feet soon and dreams of returning to Greece, as a family. His wish is to thank everyone involved personally. Joeanne concurs with a nod while feeding Charli. "I want to take her to Greece when she's old enough to understand. I want Charli to know how she was born into this world, what we went through, and the people thanks to whom she's with us. "She's got a little bit of Greece in her, too, anyway. Doesn't she?"
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