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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 00:38 GMT 01:38 UK
'My weight did not stop me'
Debra Howarth

The NHS excludes many women who are obese from fertility treatment.

Experts acknowledge there should be a threshold, but believe the NHS should be more flexible than it is currently.

When Debra Howarth decided to seek fertility treatment she thought there would be no problem.

Aged 38 when she applied for treatment last autumn, she was within the NHS recommended guidelines.

What is more the government had told NHS trusts to fund at least one cycle of IVF treatment.

But it was not to be so simple for Ms Howarth, who is now 39, as she was told she was two stone overweight with a body mass index of 32.

She said: "I was shocked when they told me I was two stone overweight.

"The staff at the clinic said I needed to lose weight or pay for the treatment myself.


"I had just lost my niece to cancer and my feet were in plaster from an operation I had had. It was a very emotional time.

"We did not have the money to pay for the treatment, I didn't know what to do, I was getting older and feared my chance may have passed me by.

"I am someone who has always been on diets, trying to lose a bit of weight. But I never considered myself really overweight and certainly not enough to stop me having a family."

How many people are denied treatment and could get pregnant too?
Debra Howarth

But then by chance Ms Howarth, an NHS kitchen superintendent from Barnsley, entered a competition on the TV programme This Morning and won 5,000.

"I could not believe it. We knew immediately what we would do with it. We paid for IVF and got pregnant first time.

"I now have just seven weeks to go and can't wait. But I do wonder what would have happened if I had not won that competition.

"They said because of my age and weight, my chances of becoming pregnant were lower. But I got pregnant first time.

"How many people are denied treatment and could get pregnant too? It is not fair."

How fertility laws might change
16 Aug 05 |  Health
Fertility rules challenged by MPs
03 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Lesbian couple want 'rare IVF'
19 Apr 05 |  Health

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