Dr. Howard Jones, who made history by bringing IVF to the US, has died.
His courageous and tenacious spirit helped countless couples have children through a then cutting-edge technology.
He has been called a pioneer — an innovator — a brilliant scientist.
He surely was all of those things and more.
But to me, he was always simply my Dr. Howard.
It was my Dr. Howard who called every Christmas and birthday to ask, as a grandfather would, what I was up to these days.
It was my Dr. Howard who read every byline of mine, in every publication I’ve ever written for (even if he didn’t usually read that publication) and craft a note to me telling me which part of which particular article he enjoyed most.
It was my Dr. Howard who helped find me a place to stay when I was a newspaper intern in Virginia, and who would take me out to lunch or dinner every week, showing me the best places to get seafood or a decadent dessert.
It was my Dr. Howard who helped lead the charge for insurance coverage of infertility treatments, and who thought my parents should bring me to international conferences about infertility as a teen, so that I could truly understand the landscape surrounding the technology that brought me into this world.
It was my Dr. Howard who wanted to know the name of my OB/GYN when I was pregnant with my son.
It was my Dr. Howard who would pick my parents and I up at the Norfolk airport when we’d head to Virginia for a visit to see the people we came call our extended family — “my team” of doctors, nurses, receptionists, and my “egg lady” who watched over my embryo in the lab.
It was my Dr. Howard who encouraged me to write about Science, even though my math abilities were so pitiful I could never actually BE a scientist. He somehow knew I could explain the difficult things.
It was my Dr. Howard who sat with me and watched the NOVA documentary of my birth, explaining every scene to me in child-friendly terms when I was about six years old, ensuring I would forever be able to recite that IVF is “when a mom’s egg and father’s sperm are fertilized in a petri dish then put back in the mother’s womb and nine months later I was born.”
It was my Dr. Howard who made my parents feel comfortable enough to trust this doctor and his team — comfortable enough that my parents tried this then-controversial procedure.
And it was my Dr. Howard who made sure I knew how much my parents loved me, no matter the manner in which I came into the world.
If it were not for Dr. Howard Jones, I would not be here.
History will never forget the impact he had on the world. More than 5 million IVF babies will never forget either.
But I shall never forget the impact my Dr. Howard had on my life.