PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia married couple who struggled with fertility is now giving hope to others looking to start a family. They started a home injection service, a first in the Philadelphia region, about a year ago.
Annie and Gene Carelli, both pharmacists at Pennsylvania Hospital, started Fertility Home Care, based in South Philadelphia, after realizing how difficult it can be to self-inject fertility medications or have a partner do it for them.
"We would get calls from patients saying, 'They just handed me a bag of needles and meds and they sent me to a YouTube video.' So, they're overwhelmed and scared when they come up," Annie said.
"There's a need for this, so we're going to try to fulfill this to help people."
The Carellis are parents to two young daughters. Their first arrived with the help of fertility specialists.
"You know, these medications can be very painful if not given correctly. So we really thiought, you know, since we went through it, and we're trained to give these types of shots, it might be really helpful to supply this type of assistance to people," Gene said.
"That relieves a lot of stress on the patient, you know, [not having] to do these injectons themselves. And having a professional there, I think, means the world."
This work has become their passion project. They started with just a handful of patients, and the demand for their services has grown. Now, less than a year later, they are at 100 patients strong.
They work with a group of nurses who make home visits to administer the injections and teach patients how to self-inject or walk their partners through it.
"We do a lot of training with husbands and partners to try to get them affiliated with the medications," Gene said.
Their home injection services reach Philadelphia and South Jersey, and they have one patient in Pittsburgh.
"The women just have been so grateful for this kind of service that we've created, because there's no one else around here that can offer that," Annie said.
The Carellis have heard from a dozen patients, who have had successful pregnancies with the help of their team.
About one-third of Americans have either sought fertility treatments or know someone who has, according to the Pew Research Center.