The recent stories about babies born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine have shed light on a lesser known area of assisted reproduction – gestational surrogacy.

Brown Fertility is proud to have played a role in the successful pregnancy and birth of a patient’s baby to a carrier in Ukraine. Following an arduous and life threatening trip from Kyiv, Michael and Ami Kowalski recently returned home with their newborn Charlotte – a truly miraculous journey.

Ami came to Brown Fertility when she was 40 and unable to carry children following a hysterectomy. A strong egg retrieval netted 6 good embryos, and after much research, Ami and her family decided to use a surrogacy agency in Ukraine, one of two countries that allow commercial surrogacy at a more reasonable expense. With Brown Fertility’s help Michael and Ami shipped the embryos to Ukraine and the first transfer to their surrogate, in June, worked out successfully.

Little did Ami and Michael know that their new bundle of joy would come into this world in the midst of turmoil and war in Ukraine. In February, close to the baby’s birth, Ami and her husband made their way to Europe and enjoyed a few nights in Kiev before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After a scary evacuation out of Kiev to the Adonis hospital where their surrogate was also being transferred to avoid the bombings in the city, they were able to meet their surrogate in person. They were together, impatiently awaiting the arrival of their daughter with tanks driving by and the hospital shaking due to bombings nearby. On the second night, while in a bomb shelter, Charlotte decided it was time to make her way out.

When Charlotte was just a few hours old, they were advised to leave quickly because of a nearby invasion. The escape reads like a dark thriller, but with a happy ending. Through the selflessness of many local Good Samaritans, including a train master who rerouted a train so they could make it to safety and an immigration snafu at the border, Ami, Michael, Charlotte and a second baby they were able to take with them to bring to her family made it to the final of 3 borders, in Bratislava and ultimately Vienna – without access to cash or much food, just the kindest of strangers. Now, home safe in the United States, Ami is grateful to Brown Fertility’s ability to help them create this new life. In fact, the Kowalski’s are hoping to give back this gift of life by donating their remaining embryos and eggs.

“It wasn’t anything I did, it was everyone around us. The resources available to us,” reflected Ami. “We will not stop until we are able to donate our good eggs to a family that needs them.”

With one of the most successful IVF programs and pregnancy rates in the country, Brown Fertility is one of the only treatment centers in the Southeast United States with the necessary clinical expertise to handle donor embryo cycles.

Brown Fertility is honored to be just a small part of the Kowalski’s incredible story.