By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – Every day is Father’s Day for Jason Kotas. That’s because after surviving childhood cancer, being a dad is a dream come true.
“We’re so lucky, so happy,” Jason told Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Jason and his wife, Emily, are smitten with their son Sam. He is their little miracle. Twenty years ago it was bone cancer, not kids, on Jason’s mind.
“I had a softball-sized tumor behind my left shoulder,” said Jason.
In 1995, Jason had surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado to remove the tumor, three ribs and part of a lung. He would need radiation and a year of chemotherapy. Jason was warned the chemo could leave him sterile.
“At that moment, of course, I know everything right, and you’re like ‘No, I’m good I don’t want any kids,'” explained Jason.
But Jason’s parents convinced him to preserve his fertility by banking sperm.
“They said these are our grandkids,” said Jason.
Fifteen years later, Jason was back at Children’s as the EMS Outreach and Education Program Manager. He met Emily who works for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Love, marriage, and longing for a baby led to Dr. Nannette Santoro, reproductive endocrinologist with CU Advanced Reproductive Medicine.
“Pretty much textbook,” is how Dr. Santoro explained what happened next.
Jason and Emily retrieved Jason’s 20-year-old frozen sperm from a Colorado lab.
“I think it was our first family road trip,” said Emily.
Emily conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Sam was born in October.
“It’s just so fascinating that half of him was created 20 plus years ago. It seems like something only Beyonce could do!” Emily said.
Jason Kotas did it by planning. He turned the horror of childhood cancer into hope.