A Swadlincote couple have told of their devastation after having their hopes of having a baby by IVF treatment dashed.
Chris and Kelly Chambers had tried for six years to have a child before a number of problems left them unable to conceive naturally. They knew their only hope of having their own child would be through IVF, but they were beset by issues.
Chris, 38, already has two children from a previous relationship, which meant the couple were not eligible for IVF treatment on the NHS. Then it emerged that Kelly, 32, could not be an egg donor because she carries the cystic fibrosis gene. The couple are now desperately trying to raise £10,000 to pay for private IVF treatment using an egg donor.
They had their first taste of heartbreak five years ago, when the couple, who have been together for seven years, discovered Kelly had miscarried their first baby.
The following year, she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and they were decided to “do some research and start exploring their options”.
Chris said this point was the “start of the emotional rollercoaster".
He said: “We had been together a couple of years and we were keen to start a family when Kelly had a miscarriage. We were shocked but we understand sadly these things happen and our time would come. When she had an ectopic pregnancy the year after it really shook us and we were devastated. After that Kelly was very reluctant to have her own baby and we started to explore the idea of IVF.”
Chris said it was “always the money side of things” that held them back but after spending £1,500 on consultations and blood tests, the pair found out that Kelly carries the cystic fibrosis gene so she could not be an egg donor.
He said: “We had already invested so much money and it was difficult not to lose hope. We kind of plodded along knowing the whole time that this was something we really wanted.
“Kelly’s dad was hoping to sell his house at the time so he offered to help us out financially which meant the pressure was off a little bit and we could relax.”
However, when Kelly found out she was pregnant the day before Mother’s Day in March this year, she could not help but get excited.
Chris, who fits ventilation systems, said: “All of us were really, really excited. I work away from home a lot but because of what happened before we have learned to be extra cautious so we paid for a private scan and I was on facetime so I could be there with Kel. It was then that we knew something was wrong. There were no signs of baby in the womb.
“Our hearts broke again as the doctors explained that Kelly may have suffered another ectopic pregnancy and that she would need to undergo surgery to remove her right fallopian tube. It was the most horrible thing. She was so upset and in pain but we counted our blessings that she still had a fine and healthy left fallopian tube.
“Eight weeks later our luck changed. Kelly had some bleeding and pain so she went to the doctors and found out she was pregnant again. We could not believe it. We were both so excited but obviously terrified. It was such a mixture of emotions.
“She found out she was pregnant on the Wednesday and on the Saturday we decided to travel to Wales to see her mum and tell her the good news.”
Within minutes of getting to Wales and breaking the news to family, tragedy struck again. Kelly was doubled up in pain and her loved ones rushed her to hospital where they were dealt another devastating blow that she had lost the baby. Kelly’s left tube had ruptured causing internal bleeding and at the age of 32, Kelly had to have her final fallopian tube removed, having lost the first one less than two months before.
The father-of-two said he was inspired to start the fund-raising page while at Kelly’s bedside in hospital.
He said: “We already knew that we could not have IVF treatment on the NHS as I already have children but to find £10,000 to go private is going to take a very long time.
“If we were residents in Wales right now we would be able to get two rounds of IVF but the laws in this country are different and I think it is a farce.
“I am absolutely fuming that we cannot appeal this decision. If I didn’t have children we would be entitled to IVF and the irony is that we could break up tomorrow, she could find someone else who doesn’t have children and they would have a better chance at starting a family than us. It is all we want. I can’t get my head around that.”
He said their journey has been a “mentally draining ride” which has put a strain on their lives.
He said: “It has affected us massively to be honest. Kelly's been trying to finish her nursing degree for ages but she has had so many knock backs, she is also working part time to try to get the funds together. It has caused strain but she keeps smiling.
“We have been trying to complete our family for six years so it has been a long time coming. It is becoming the be all and end all and it would change our lives so much.
“The biggest worry is the IVF won’t work but we think we at least deserve a chance. Of course, I want to raise awareness and I would like the laws to change but above all we want our own baby.”
To find out more or to donate, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/OurIVFhelp
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby.
During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman's womb to grow and develop.
It can be carried out using your eggs and your partner's sperm, or eggs and/or sperm from donors.
Who can have IVF?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published fertility guidelines that make recommendations about who should have access to IVF treatment on the NHS in England and Wales.
These guidelines recommended that IVF should be offered to women under 43 years of age who have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected sex for two years, or who have had 12 cycles of artificial insemination.
However, the final decision about who can have NHS-funded IVF in England is made by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and their criteria may be stricter than those recommended by NICE.
If you're not eligible for NHS treatment, or you decide to pay for IVF, you can have treatment at a private clinic. Costs vary, but one cycle of treatment may cost up to £5,000 or more.
Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol, smoking and caffeine during treatment may improve your chances of having a baby with IVF.
IVF on the NHS
NHS trusts across England and Wales are working to provide the same levels of service. However, the provision of IVF treatment varies across the country and often depends on local CCG policies.
CCGs may have additional criteria you need to meet before you can have IVF on the NHS, such as:
- not having any children already, from both your current and any previous relationships
- being a healthy weight
- not smoking
- falling into a certain age range (for example, some CCGs only fund treatment for women under 35)
In some cases, only one cycle of IVF may be routinely offered, instead of the three recommended by NICE.
If you're not eligible for NHS treatment or you decide to pay for IVF, you can have treatment at a private clinic. Some clinics can be contacted directly without seeing your GP first, but others may ask for a referral from your GP.
The cost of private treatment can vary, but one cycle of IVF can cost up to £5,000 or more. There may be additional costs for medicines, consultations and tests.