Saturday 3 December 2016

Irish IVF couple: I was ready to give up... this was way too emotionally draining

Sasha Brady

Published 07/09/2016 | 10:06

Alison and Ron Collins from Cork underwent three rounds of IVF. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples
Alison and Ron Collins from Cork underwent three rounds of IVF. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples

An IVF expert has warned Irish couples to be wary of 'exploitative' add-ons when seeking treatment as TV3 documentary highlights 'frustrating' journey for parents-to-be.

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About one in six couples have difficulty conceiving a child and many of them turn to IVF as a solution.

But Dr John Waterstone, the medical director of the Cork Fertility Centre, claims some clinics are taking advantage of desperate parents-to-be.

He told TV3's documentary IVF Couples, which aired on Tuesday night, that couples need to be understand exactly what's being offered to them.

He said: "The concerns are that couples may go for IVF treatment and then be offered a variety of add-on extras... and before they know it they may come out the other end of the process, sometimes without a baby, having spent several thousand more euros than they had anticipated going into the process."

The "add-ons" he referred to include tests for immune problems, embryos being placed in a time lapse incubator and routine pre-implantation genetic screening.

Read more: Norah Casey: ‘I went through terrible IVF- I became pregnant with twins and lost them’

The treatment isn't cheap and Ireland remains one of only three countries in the EU where IVF is not yet funded by the State.

IVF is specifically recommended for women with absent, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. It is also used in cases of unexplained infertility.

Treatment costs between €4,000 to €4,500 per course and is only available from private clinics.

Niamh Mulhall and her husband Nat spent €92,000 on IVF. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples
Niamh Mulhall and her husband Nat spent €92,000 on IVF. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples

Last night's documentary featured a couple, Niamh and Nat Mulhall, who spent almost €100,000 on eight rounds of IVF, four of those donor egg IVF treatments were carried out abroad.

Niamh eventually gave birth to the couple's son Cillian through the help of an IVF donor in 2012.

Cork couple, Alison and Ron Collins, underwent three rounds of IVF after it was revealed that Alison couldn't conceive as she suffers from polycystic ovaries – a common cause of female infertility that affects around 8-10 percent of women.

The couple underwent three rounds of IVF in before giving birth to baby boy Casey in November 2015.

Niamh Mulhall and her husband Nat eventually welcomed son Cillian in 2012. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples
Niamh Mulhall and her husband Nat eventually welcomed son Cillian in 2012. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples

Ron said: "It was a very long road, lots of frustration and it's very much guessing for two and a half years."

The show also featured gay couple Lucille Furlong and Elaine Grange from Lusk County Dublin, who, when trying for a much-wanted second baby, ended up undergoing eight months of treatments including six intrauterine insemination (IUI), a cancelled IUI and a repeat ovarian drilling.

They soon conceived but their celebrations were cut short when it was discovered that the pregnancy was a twin ectopic, which resulted in Lucille undergoing emergency surgery to remove a ruptured fallopian tube.

The couple switched from IUI to IVF after recommendations from doctors, due to the high risk of eptopic pregnancies but the emotional and physical toll was too much for Lucille and Elaine so they waited another year before starting treatment.

An unsuccessful IVF treatment brought about plenty of pain for the pair when at just ten weeks, a scan showed the foetus had stopped developing.

Lucille Furlong and Elaine Grange. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples
Lucille Furlong and Elaine Grange. Photo: TV3 / IVF Couples

Lucille has surgery to remove the foetus but seeing happy parents leave Holles Street Hospital with their newborn babies brought home the devastation of what the couple had lost.

"I was almost 90 percent ready to give up, this was way too emotionally draining," Lucille explained.

Eventually they welcomed their much-longed for child Seanan through IVF in 2014, after 20 months and 10 fertility treatments.

Both Lucille and Elaine agreed he was worth it

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