From August 23rd to August 31st, 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana. With 127 mile per hour winds and a 22 foot storm surge, Katrina destroyed and flooded everything in her path. Andrea and Jon Will thought that their twins were included in the death toll that reached almost 2,000 people. However, they were excitedly mistaken. Months after the storm, a daring rescue team from Illinois made the effort to go into a flooded hospital and save 1,200 babies. Days later, Andrea and Jon heard the news; their children had survived. Only, they weren’t exactly children…yet.
“We needed to get them because the amount of liquid nitrogen that was keeping them frozen was quickly depleting, especially in the heat, and we had to get them back into cold storage,” stated Lt. Curt Lewis, an officer that carried out canisters full of frozen surviving embryos. 1,200 embryos were moved to the second floor of the fertility clinic in New Orleans, once the storm began. As the building flooded and lost power, couples began frantically calling the clinic in an attempt to save their babies. One of these couples was the Wills. The Will family consisted, at the time, of Andrea, Jon, and their first set of twin boys, who were also once frozen embryos. The Wills were elated to hear that two of their frozen embryos had survived. However, a third one had not. Andrea believes that the embryo that didn’t survive would have been a girl. Losing this child made the Wills even more tempted to try to have the two embryos that had survived the storm. Thawing them was a risky and tricky process, but they were successful. In December of 2006, Andrea gave birth to healthy twin boys: Sam and Ben.
As the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed in August, the boys and their family were interviewed and celebrated by CNN. Andrea and John recalled their experiences while the boys played in the family’s pool and talked to crew members. Ben is evidently the troublemaker of the two, while Sam is more quiet and reserved. Andrea says that Ben is,“going to be a typical Southern boy with a big truck with a gun in the back.”
Lt. Curt Lewis has never met the twins, and had never actually known of what happened to the embryos he carried out of the flooded Louisiana hospital years ago. When CNN interviewed Lt. Lewis, they read him a message that Andrea Will had for him. “Thank you for saving my babies, and believing that they were babies all those years ago, because not everybody does! And if you could see my boys today, you’d see that you truly did save lives, and I could never thank you enough.” Upon hearing this message, Lt. Lewis blushed but kept his composure. However, when he was given a picture of the twins in their cowboy hats sitting in rocking chairs on their porch, Lewis was moved to tears.
Sam and Ben, now anxiously awaiting their 10th birthday, don’t seem to know why they’re such a big deal. When asked to describe how he feels about what he’s been through, Sam thoughtfully responds, “It’s cool, I guess.”