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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 11:35 GMT
'We went to Hollywood for IVF'
By Helen Briggs
BBC News

Hollywood (BBC)
'It's the best healthcare I've ever had by far'
UK couples with fertility problems are increasingly looking abroad for help in having a baby because of a shortage of egg and sperm donors.

Yvonne, aged 34, went to Hollywood for IVF treatment after three failed cycles in the UK.

She has been trying for a baby with husband Mark for four years.

It was devastating trying for a baby.

It seems that all around you people are having kids and everybody else's lives are going forward.

Until you've been through it, you'll never understand what it's like.

If someone dies, you get over it, because they're not coming back, and if you get divorced, you have to accept that you have to move on. But you're stuck, if you like, and it's a horrible place to be.

I wouldn't apply for new jobs in case I fell pregnant. There was a phase when I was going to the supermarket at 10pm because I knew there wouldn't be anybody there with kids.

And I would plan my holidays so as not to be sitting with loads of families on a flight.

It's very difficult; it's the only thing in life I've actually failed at.

I've got a couple of degrees, I've got a house and a career but something that everybody takes in a way as dead straightforward isn't happening like that for me.

'It's not me'

I tried for about a year-and-a-half before I went to the doctors in January 2004.

We saw a specialist in September, and we got the test results that December

They worked out that I was ovulating but that my womb lining was rather thin.

Baby (Gusto/Science Photo Library)
All around you people are having kids

But they told my husband: "Just to let you know your sperm's knackered and your only hope is ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg) so we'll put you on the waiting list."

My husband was devastated.

Meanwhile I was jumping for joy thinking 'Thank God, we've been investigating this for a year, and it's not me'.

They did a laparoscopy to check my tubes, which the doctor said were 'clean as a whistle'.

'You will wait and wait'

We didn't want to sit on the NHS waiting list, so the only option for us was to go private.

You forget how traumatic it is going through a cycle but the need to have a child pushes you on all the time.

I've had more than a 100 hospital appointments, I've been in theatre five times for investigations and egg collection, and I sometimes I can't believe I'm going through all this because I want to have a child.

'Abroadies'

On the web there's a site called fertility friends.co.uk and there was a thread on there for "Abroadies", as they call it. A lot of people were going to Eastern Europe or to various places in Asia, so I started to keep an eye on that.

Home pregnancy test (Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library)
'The need to have a child pushes you on'
About three or four weeks ago we were looking at going to Bombay, to one of the clinics over there, because they would put in six embryos (under UK law, doctors are only allowed to transfer a maximum of two fertilised embryos into the womb).

Then we found out about the possibility of going to the US to take part in a research project looking into thin womb lining which is specifically what I've got.

Bombay was going to cost us something like 3,000 and this was going to cost us 3,700 for the treatment because we're getting it half price for taking part in the study, so we took the American option.

The good thing about being abroad is that it's kind of surreal.

It is a bit like being on holiday but we have to go to the clinic every day or every second day.

We've been down to Hollywood Boulevard and things like that. It's good at taking your mind off why you're actually here.

'Phenomenal' health care

The experience so far has been phenomenal; the best health care I've ever had by far. Even the pharmacy they use is specific to treat infertility.

When you're in pursuit of infertility you don't do the sums

In the US they will implant five embryos, six in India. Back home I had one embryo the first time, two the second, and two the third; and it didn't work.

If it does work this time, say I get four put back in, and I fall pregnant with one, or I fall pregnant with twins, I would like to put two fingers up to the HFEA (Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority) because they're saying you can't have four embryos put back in.

All in all we'll probably have been here for about four-and-a-half weeks before we get home.

I'm dreading going home in a way, because when I go back into work everyone is going to ask, Has it worked?

It is difficult thinking about how much money we've spent. But when you're in pursuit of infertility you don't do the sums.

I'm in my early thirties and the only way we can draw a line under it is to be able to say to ourselves we have no regrets, we have done everything possible and then move on.

If it doesn't work out, and I'm in my 40s or 50s and maybe childless I can say well I did try my absolute best, we went to one of the best clinics in the world. Not a lot of people can say that.




SEE ALSO
Personal story: IVF in Barbados
15 Dec 06 |  Health
Personal story: IVF in Istanbul
19 Dec 06 |  Health

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