A mother who had her baby after fertility treatment has spoken out against proposals by health chiefs in Cambridgeshire to stop offering IVF on the NHS. Reporter Sophie Day speaks to Donna Young about how the treatment changed her life.
Childhood sweethearts Donna and Chris Young had been trying to have a baby for 10 years but, after four miscarriages, they thought they were not destined to be parents.
“The miscarriages were heartbreaking, it’s hard to comprehend. Suddenly that baby is taken away from you and you see everyone around you having babies and you start blaming yourself – I think it affected me emotionally for a long while,” said Donna, of Dorset Close, in Wyton.
At a meeting of the county council’s health committee on December 15, members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) asked the panel to approve a consultation on the possible decision to withdraw IVF fertility treatment on the NHS.
Currently, couples in the county can apply for one round of treatment on the NHS, if aged between 23 and 42 and they meet all the necessary eligibility criteria.
The agenda item stated: “The CCG has finite resources to fund a whole range of health services and treatments. Specialist fertility services are expensive treatments.
“There is a real need to consider the value of funding for this treatment at the current time compared with all other NHS treatments/services.”
Donna, 31, said: “We were lucky to be able to have the treatment on the NHS, without that I don’t think we would be where we are today.
“If it is decided to stop funding fertility treatment for women in this area then it is going to be heartbreaking and crushing for people who have dreamed of having a baby.
“For us, we were relatively healthy people but something wasn’t right, something needed to be kick-started. If something isn’t right for people who do have the opportunity to have fertility treatment it really does help.
“What worries me about them [the CCG] cutting it is the number of people who will be going to the hospital hoping they will get referred for treatment but being told to go away. They are not going to be able to get any treatment.”
The couple’s journey to have a baby started when Donna was 21, and the couple were surprised to learn that she had become pregnant unexpectedly.
“I found out I was pregnant, we hadn’t been trying but we were really happy and surprised. I was about six- and-a-half weeks when I started to bleed so I went to the hospital and I found out that I had miscarried – I was completely shocked as this was something that we had always really wanted,” said Donna, a HR administrator.
After the miscarriage Donna and Chris, 33, went to her GP but were told it was “something that was pretty common”. It wasn’t until the fourth miscarriage that the pair thought there was something seriously wrong.
Following tests Donna was told there was a possibility she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common condition that can impact fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage. She was also urged by doctors to make some lifestyle changes.
“It was a bizarre situation but they kept saying I was overweight and told me that I had to really think about quitting smoking.”
After losing two stone, Donna was eventually referred to Bourn Hall - a fertility clinic - in December and, within the space of nine weeks, she found out that the treatment had worked.
Specialists at the clinic took six of Donna’s eggs, all of them were injected and it was found that five of them were successful.
“When I saw the test I was ecstatic, it didn’t sink in fully until I saw a baby in front of me.”
Ronnie was born on December 18, 2015, after a 25-hour labour and he spent three days in the special care baby unit after a forceps delivery.
“His birth had all been a bit dramatic and suddenly as we wheeled him out of the special care baby unit I thought ‘Oh my God, he’s my baby and we are taking him home!’ – I started bawling my eyes out.
“I still look at him and cry sometimes,” she added.
Councillors voted to approve the process for public consultation. The CCG is now working with health scrutiny committees and Healthwatch organisations across the county before the start of the consultation.
To find out more, log on to www.bourn-hall-clinic.co.uk.