A Second Chance at Motherhood
Tubal ligation reversal is frequently successful
By: Felix Alfonso PeNa
The two women’s stories begin very differently. One didn’t want any more children; the other didn’t want any.
Their stories converged when they had tubal ligation surgery, a procedure that restricts or cuts the Fallopian tubes, which prevents eggs from descending from the ovaries into the uterus where they can be fertilized.
Years later, both women changed their minds They wanted another chance at motherhood.
Happily for them and for many other women who have changed their minds, tubal ligation reversal is frequently successful.
Deborah L. Garrity’s story begins a couple of months after her second child, Alyson Galen, was born.
Garrity, who was living in Mohrsville at that time and not happily married, decided that Marc, then 2, and Alyson, were enough. She had a tubal ligation, the type that involves electrically burning the cut ends of the tubes.
A year later she and her husband separated, and a couple of years after that they divorced.
And then she met her present husband, Anthony M. Garrity.
Anthony had no children of his own, and the couple wanted to have children together.
Things were a bit different for Lena M. Seltzer, who lives in Penn Township. At 19, she had been married one year to Bill J. Seltzer, who is still her husband 21 years later.
But as the oldest of three children, she had spent much of her childhood raising her two younger brothers, and that seemed to satisfy her maternal instincts.
And her husband, one of nine children, had watched his older siblings struggle financially with their young families.
“I don’t remember saying, ‘I don’t want kids,’ but when my doctor mentioned getting my tubes tied I said, ‘Yeah,’ ” she said.
Her gynecologist, Dr. Vincent A. Pellegrini, performed the sterilization using clamps, she said.
Ten years later, Bill and Lena wanted children, and she went back to Pellegrini for a reversal.
“All reversals are not technically possible,” Pellegrini said, “but about 80 percent of the women who have had the ligation have the option for reversal.”
The pregnancy rate among those women who have had the reversal ranges between 60 and 70 percent, Pellegrini said.
“It’s higher or lower depending on how they were sterilized,” he said.
Those women who were sterilized through use of a device called the Hulka clip have about an 80 percent chance of becoming pregnant, he said.
Women whose Fallopian tubes were electrically burnt have a 60 percent chance of pregnancy, Pellegrini said.
The key is being able to rejoin the cut Fallopian tube, Pellegrini said.
“We need 3.5 centimeters (1.4 inches) of healthy tube,” he said. “A normal tube is 8 centimeters (3.2 inches).”
Seltzer went to Pellegrini for the reversal surgery.
“The reversal was in April 1998,” Seltzer said. “At the beginning of September I went in for a check-up, and they told me I was pregnant.”
The pregnancy was successful. Mikaela M. Seltzer is now 8 years old and in third grade. Next came Cody J. Seltzer, now 5 years old and in preschool.
Pellegrini performed a tubal reversal on Garrity in 1999.
Her concern about only one tube being open proved to be in vain.
“I had the reversal in April, and I was pregnant in June,” she said.
Tobi Lynn Garrity turned 8 in March.
Garrity, who now lives in Minersville, Schuylkill County, said they stopped trying after that, but they went back to Pellegrini last year to see about another pregnancy. In mid-December, Garrity discovered she was pregnant.
Garrity miscarried in January, but she said she and her husband will try again to have another child.
“Four will be enough,” she said.
Then she laughed and said, “But twins run in my family.”
Both women had the usual bikini-cut surgery, much like a cesarean section incision, for the reversal. This typically involves a hospital stay of several days and six or more weeks of recovery at home, with strict limitations on lifting.
But both say they would do it over again in a heartbeat.
“All that pain that I had went away when I had that child,” Garrity said.
“I can’t imagine now not having my kids,” Seltzer said. “Even on a rough day, they’re worth it.”