BONUS EPISODE : IVF AT 40 FROM THE HFEA
In celebration of Louise Brown’s 40th Birthday and the fact that over 300,000 babies have been born through IVF treatment with more than 1 million cycles have taken place, the HFEA asked me to make a podcast with them. I had a chat with its chair Sally Cheshire and one of its Inspector’s a lady called Janet Kirkland MacHattie, who worked as a nurse at Bourne Hall in 1982, under Patrick Steptoe, Robert Edwards and Jean Purdy. Both Ladies invited me to their homes and we had a lovely chat.
In fact, it was during my time speaking with Janet, that I first learnt about Jean, and I’m somewhat ashamed that I didn’t know about her sooner!
Sally Cheshire and I talked about how at the time the treatment was quite experimental and Louise Brown’s parents were quite brave in putting themselves forward and she explained how the Government and Parliament decided to investigate how treatment should be regulated and asked Mary Warnock to form a committee in 1984 to look at how infertility should be regulated. The law came into being in 1990 and the HFEA came to be in 1991.
Sally talked about her role at the HFEA and what has changed over the last 40 years and the importance of the focus of it’s work being on the 70% of people who aren’t successful with their treatment. The HFEA has a vital role, thinking about how emotional support can be improved in clinics because, as she explains ‘We do know that even if you are pregnant after IVF there’s a level of anxiety you carry with you”. We also spoke about the importance of being medically, emotionally and financially equipped to try again when going through fertility treatment. Sally explained how ‘We still feel a lot of media stories about fertility treatment are positive… very often, there’s a lot of around celebrities with the example of Bridget Neilson who gave birth at 54. Are they being truthful about using donor eggs? Some of those stories give you a false impression.”
Janet explained how she went for the job at Bourn Hall, to join the nursing team – not really knowing what was involved and when she asked Patrick Steptoe his advice on a book she could read to learn more, his reply was ‘My dear, they’ve not been written yet
It was fascinating to hear what the treatment process was like initially, with Ladies staying at Bourn Hall for ten day periods and how as they didn’t have blood tests, the Ladies urine was tested every three hours to find out if they were ovulating. It must have been such an exciting time, with all the interest in Louise Brown and then this new facility being set up. After her birth, Janet talked about an interview Patrick Steptoe gave where he spoke about his vision for the future being “centres set up where people have been properly trained and this technique will be available to women all over the world”
To compare clinics like for like, or rate your clinic, go to: http://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/
You also heard about having treatment abroad. Please visit the following pages within the HFEA website to find out more information.
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Source: The Fertility Podcast
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