Isabella Lafferty is a bright and articulate 37-year-old chartered accountant. Yet five years ago she found herself being talked into paying thousands of pounds for unproven fertility treatments.
‘When you’re going through IVF, you’re vulnerable, desperate and you’d cut your leg off if your doctor told you to,’ says Isabella, who lives in London. ‘You’re so emotionally involved you simply don’t care what it costs which is why fertility doctors have an immense amount of responsibility.’
Yesterday it was revealed that some NHS hospitals were charging up to 40 per cent over the odds for private IVF treatment. And in another study researchers from Oxford University found that almost all of the additional treatments that are sold alongside IVF to boost its success have no scientific backing and the results were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
My husband and I came to Create following unsuccessful treatments at another private clinic. The initial consultation, a gynaecological MOT in April 2011, enabled the early diagnosis of a benign ovarian dermoid cyst. Following the removal of the cyst, we returned to Create for treatment in August, a process which had begun with testicular sperm extraction and concluded with natural cycle IVF. We were successful. Our first IVF attempt resulted in a beautiful baby girl born in April 2012.
The staff at Create were quite simply fantastic- professional, empathetic and positive. I was looking for an environment which would offer individualised treatment and the possibility of examining all options. Natural IVF worked with my cycle and the reduced level of medication was also a major bonus. Create’s vigilance also allayed any worries I had about ovarian hyperstimulation. As Create rightly state, all that is needed is one viable sperm and a healthy egg. The wonderful ethos of this clinic is woman centred prioritising Gynaecological health not statistics.
Being in my early forties, my expectations of having a child were exceedingly low. The attitude of all staff at Create is so genuinely encouraging. The doctors, consultants, nurses and embryologists cheerfully affirmed my possibilities. During the early stages of my pregnancy I was also able to contact both my doctor and embryologist for advice regarding prenatal testing. This clinic works as a team and has a unified vision. Create really is an extraordinary place with committed staff eager to enable women’s reproductive possibilities safely. My husband and I considered Create to be our support mechanism. This extraordinary achievement is due to the extraordinary people working at this clinic. It should be noted that had we not been successful I would have had absolutely no hesitation in returning to Create for further treatment.
My husband and I had been trying to have children for 18 months. When nothing had happened, I went to my GP and was advised to keep trying naturally for a while longer. We did but still nothing happened. I had some basic tests and we were quite quickly put into the category of ‘unexplained infertility.’ That was the moment when we realised we had an issue.
I went to CREATE and further tests showed I had polycystic ovaries. I wasn’t surprised because my sister has it and I had some of the associated symptoms. However, because the scans through the GP hadn’t discovered it, I thought it had been ruled out. So when CREATE identified the issue very clearly we had an explanation for our problems. Further scans also showed that I had issues with the blood circulation around my uterus.
It was this time last year that it all began for my husband and I. We had been trying for another baby for 6 years and apart from some very early un-diagnosed miscarriages, we had been completely unsuccessful. I thought that at my ripe old age of 46 it would be impossible to have another child and completely impossible to have one with my own eggs. I started searching on line to see whether there was any help out there for us and came across several Fertility Clinics in and around London and wondered whether this might be the route we could take. Upon reading the criteria of several clinics I found that I was too old for any treatment and thus I thought we had left it too late and we would have to rely on nature and a great deal of luck. Then a chance conversation with a new friend who had conceived both her lovely children with some help from Create and Prof Nargund, with renewed hope I looked at their website and made an appointment to go along to the clinic to find out whether there was any possibility at all of adding to our lovely family.
It was a beautiful sunny day on the 12th January when I first entered the Create Clinic in Harley Street with my husband who had nipped out from work to join me. A consultation with Prof Nargund informing us of our chances (to be honest at my age there really aren’t any statistics available because a lot of clinics do not help after the age of 45) and what it might involve. Following the consultation, we went into the scanning room to find out how many follicles I had left and give an idea of potential egg reserves. To everyone’s surprise I had an amazing 21, which was very good news although of course this does not guarantee how many eggs you might have left. Back in to see Prof Nargund and a plan was compiled for us to start our treatment with my next cycle which was at the end of January.
Now we were on board we switched our treatment centre to Raynes Park which was much closer to home and much more convenient. A visit to the Clinic and a lesson on how and when to take the medicines and then it was over to us, or should I say me, to do exactly as instructed. I have to say at times it was very hard to slip away from work commitments on time, only to sit in a public toilet with syringe in hand, but I was committed and nothing was going to stop me trying my hardest to make this work.
Several visits to the clinic and several scans later everything was ready for egg collection and sperm retrieval. We went in to the clinic and were met by a lovely nurse to put us at ease, we also met the embryologist and the Dr who was going to perform the procedure. After a short wait it was our turn and the collection took place. A total of 10 eggs were retrieved which was amazing, but still it would be a waiting game to see which eggs would fertilise and then which ones would be good enough for implantation. It was the start of what would be a few long days of waiting for the phone call. The phone call came and it was great news all 10 had fertilised and now we just had to wait a little longer for the eggs to reach blastocyst stage as it was felt that this would give us the best chance of conceiving. A further nail biting wait and the news was again amazing 7 of the eggs had reached the blastocyst stage and were looking good, so the date was set for the implantation. The day of my 47 birthday was the day the eggs were reintroduced to my uterus, 3 of them in total to optimise my chances. It was then the longest, sleepless wait in history before going back to the clinic to have my blood taken for the early pregnancy test. That morning after the test and lots of encouraging wishes from the lovely staff, I left the clinic aware that the blood had to be sent off to the lab in Harley Street and decided that I needed to keep myself busy. I went shopping for food, had lunch with my husband then went off to the DIY store to get some paint and various bits and pieces. Whilst walking up and down the aisles filling my trolley with items from my list my phone started ringing. It was a message, the reception in the shop was so bad that it hadn’t rung, but there was a message from the Clinic. I wandered around the shop until I found a signal then dialled the call back number but the Dr was on the phone, so I hung up and as soon as I did my husband rang to ask me where I was and how I was, he then excitedly told me we were pregnant. To be honest I couldn’t believe it and all I wanted to do was get home to him. As I was walking back to the car the clinic rang, it was the nurse we had seen right at the beginning, she was so lovely, congratulating me, then I realised it was true, it was real we were pregnant.
The journey had just begun, but thankfully it was all going to be well worth it. We now have the most beautiful healthy baby boy and our family is complete, his big brother loves him to pieces and we are so grateful to all the staff at Create….Thank you, Thank you so so much.
My husband and I went for our initial consultation towards the end of last year. We had a history of two ICSIs without fresh transfer, and 3 frozen transfers, only one of which led to a clinical pregnancy followed by a miscarriage at 9 weeks.
We started our first Mild IVF cycle at St. Paul’s in the beginning of February and we have just had a fresh embryo transfer, so we do not yet know the outcome of this cycle. However, we wanted to pause and say thank you at this stage for designing an excellent protocol for us, and to express our appreciation of the whole clinical and nursing team. Our experience with all of the clinical staff has been excellent.
IVF is a horrible process but your team and the protocol you designed really worked for me. I had 10 mature eggs after 9 days of mild stimulation with 5 good embryos by day 5. I think you can see this as a real success for your mild strategy, and your focus on quality not quantity. My previous best cycle had about 18 mature eggs but that only led to about the same number of day 5 embryos, and that involved a freeze-all protocol to deal with the OHSS risk and nearly 8 months from start to finish for a single transfer.
Now we have all our fingers and toes crossed for a positive pregnancy test.