Monday 19 August 2019

Irish mums who conceived through IVF: ‘State-funded IVF will relieve the burden during what is already an extremely stressful time’

Leo and Orla pictured after his birth
Leo and Orla pictured after his birth

Patricia Murphy

An Irish mum who is pregnant with her second child after an eleven year struggle with infertility has welcomed plans to be announced by the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar later today, which will see Irish couples struggling with infertility receive state-funded treatment to help them conceive.

Orla Rainert conceived her son Leo (1) through IVF after struggling with infertility for more than a decade but said the financial stress of IVF makes the process much more stressful.

Fred, Orla & Leo (1)
Fred, Orla & Leo (1)

“When you’re struggling to conceive in Ireland and you want to go the route of IVF or fertility treatments, you either have the money or you must take out a loan,” said Orla.

“Each failed cycle is so devastating, and then the financial pinch of paying back loans makes it hurt even more.”

Read more: State will fund fertility treatment for couples - Varadkar

Presently, treatments are only available privately through clinics and can cost but to €4,500 per course. For many couples each course of IVF offers a 30pc chance of success.

The mum (48) from Sandyford is now expecting her second child after developments in IVF technology and welcomed the plans expected to be announced by the Minister for Health today.

“Infertility is very difficult and when it’s not recognised as a medical issue it is really tough because there is little support for couples struggling from our health system at the moment. It’s not a choice and it’s something everyone stays silent about. It’s great for Irish couples that they will now have this support,” she said.

Minister Varadkar admitted that the plans, due to be published in the summer, would help more couples struggling with infertility have access to fertility treatments which may be financially out of reach for them.

Mr Varadkar said: "I believe it is important that we should consider how best to provide public funding for fertility treatment in tandem with closing the current legislative gap in this area of healthcare. Fertility treatments should be funded in such a way that not only maximises efficiency but which ensures equity of access as well.

"Nevertheless, the provision of public funding for assisted human reproduction must be accompanied by a robust system of legal governance which will promote and protect the health and well-being of patients and most especially the children who will be born as a result of the treatment."

Alison Reede (42), a Life Coach and Fertile Body Method Practitioner, who conceived twins in 2013 after six rounds of IVF said that the plans to have state funded fertility treatments available to couples takes a huge pressure off.

Alison pictured with her husband Neil and twins Meghan and Gemma, now 2
Alison pictured with her husband Neil and twins Meghan and Gemma, now 2

“One of the big worries about IVF is the cost of the treatment. The financial aspect of the process makes it even tougher on a couple who are having issues with fertility,” she said.

“It would be interesting to see if and how the fertility-treatments will be means-tested as in the UK I believe it is administered based on address.

“My husband and I were lucky in that we both had good jobs and were able to take out loans and my parents did help us out, but so many people don’t have those resources available to them.

“The emotional side of infertility and IVF already puts such a strain on a couple so it would be great if this additional burden was supported by the state,” she said.

Rates of infertility are increasing in Ireland as couples are waiting until later in life to begin a family. Recent figures have shown that one in six Irish couples have struggled to conceive.

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