Donate and help a friend

images-2In an interesting move to increase the number of egg and sperm donors, one UK fertility clinic is offering anyone who donates the chance to nominate a friend or family member for a free cycle of IVF treatment. The clinic carried out a survey which found that the thing that motivated donors more than anything else was knowing someone who was having difficulty getting pregnant – so this scheme aims to capitalise on that by offering them the chance to help someone they know as well as someone they don’t!

The clinic, Bourn Hall, has set up a new website for anyone wanting to know more about becoming a donor and potential donors can visit any of the Bourn clinics near Cambridge and Norwich and in Colchester.

You can find out more about the project here 

Louise Brown’s book

If you’ve had IVF, you will have heard of Louise Brown – the first ever IVF baby – and you will also be interested in a new book which chronicles Louise’s life. I was hugely disappointed to have to miss the launch of Louise’s book, held at Bourn Hall, the clinic set up by IVF pioneers Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe – but am really looking forward to reading her story in this new book.

In the book, Louise reveals what it was like to be the object of such fascination and media interest from the moment of her birth – and the impact it has had on her and her family. What has always struck me as being so lovely about Louise is that she appears to have been so remarkably unspoilt by what happened to her, and now lives a very un-starry life as a mother of two naturally conceived children of her own. And that’s despite the fact that as a baby she had toured Japan, the USA, Canada and Ireland clocking up 29,425 air miles before she was six months old! International media interest in the story was so intense that journalists camped at the hospital and outside the the family homefor weeks on end and the birth was featured on front pages worldwide. Church leaders and politicians entered into debates about her birth.

You can buy Louise’s book and find out more about her remarkable story direct from the publisher Bristol Books here 

Are you coming to the Fertility Show this weekend?

header_510_graphicIt’s not too late to get tickets if you are interested in coming along to the Fertility Show this weekend at London’s Olympia – and if you register at Infertility Network UK, which is completely free, you can get a discount on your entrance.

It’s a huge event, and can be rather overwhelming, but what it does present is a unique opportunity to hear some of the country’s leading experts in the field talking about their subject – there’s Dr Allan Pacey on male fertility, Sam Abdalla of the Lister Fertility Clinic on treating women with reduced ovarian reserve and his colleage James Nicopoullos on fertility testing,  Yacoub Khalaf of Guy’s and St Thomas’ on improving the odds of IVF working for you and his colleague Tarek El-Touhky on treatment for older women, Professor Lesley Regan of St Mary’s Hospital will talk about dealing with recurrent miscarriage, Lord Winston will discuss how to deal with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, Stuart Lavery of IVF Hammersmith is talking about fertility basics and Zita West will cover nutrition and complementary therapies. If you want to find out about any aspect of fertility or treatment, you will find a seminar that will be useful in a schedule of more than fifty different talks from leading experts.

There are also the exhibition stands covering many different aspects of fertility. A number of UK clinics are represented – the Bourn Hall chain of clinics, the fourteen clinics in the CARE fertility chain which now cover many areas of the UK, City Fertility, Create, Guy’s Assisted Conception Unit, Herts and Essex Fertility Centre, Homerton, IVF Hammersmith, King’s College Hospital ACU, the Lister, London Fertility Centre, Newlife and Poundbury Fertility. There are also clinics from across the world, along with complementary therapists, charities and support organisations. This year for the first time the British Fertility Society will have a stand representing the professional bodies involved in fertility, and this is a very welcome development.

The Fertility Show is sometimes criticised for laying bare the commercialisation of the fertility industry, but I think it is most helpful to approach the two-day event understanding that there may well be things that aren’t for you and that you will need to sift out what is most helpful for your individual situation. Look at the list of exhibitors and think about which you might want to make time for.

One often overlooked aspect of the Fertility Show is the sheer numbers of people who come through the doors – there is something very positive to be gained from being with so many other people who are going through similar experiences and who understand how you are feeling. The fact that there are 3.5 million people at any given time in the UK experiencing fertility problems is something that it can be hard to believe if you are feeling isolated and lonely – but being in one place with so many other people who are struggling to conceive can feel unexpectedly empowering.