The scientific industry recently lost another prestigious pioneer in the person of Professor Robert Edwards - The man whom together with his fellow late colleague Dr Patrick Steptoe bore forth Louise brown via In vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
There is no doubt that this ingenious discovery has gone down as one of the greatest scientific advancements’ of all time. As life changing as the birth of IVF has been to many the journey remains a predicament to a few.
Stringent rules such as selection criteria coupled with cost means for many seeking treatment via IVF, the miracle remains a distant dream.
Qualification criteria such as weight, age, medical condition and number of children automatically disqualify some less fortunate candidates. Most couples’ in the UK are offered 3 treatment cycles but for some the traumatic experience means that the journey ends before the third attempt.
I once met a young couple who had been trying to conceive for over a decade with no success. Tests revealed that the lady had fertility issues. In her case, this meant that she did not produce enough eggs hence reducing her chances of conception. IVF was offered and they finally found a ray of hope. What they did not anticipate was the accessories that came along with it.
Hospital appointments, pre-medication, blood tests, scans and 2-3 times daily injections all seemed overwhelming. But when you find yourself in such a predicament, inconvenience is the last of your worries. Through all the anxiety the D day finally arrives and yet you can’t quiet grasp on to “hope” for fear of the unknown. Low and behold at the first attempt the procedure had to be cancelled as her ovaries had other plans. After all the build-up of emotions only to be turned away, the couple held their own and returned home to start the preparation all over again. The next appointment arrived, this time eggs were successfully harvested but the procedure failed. After the second cycle failed they decided to accept their fate and refused a third cycle. Understandably, emotional trauma can be very eerie.
Professor Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe have indeed transformed the face of conception and brought hope to many. For the young couple their hope of child birth was short-lived. The success rates over the years however continue to rise and many more clinics around the world now offer the procedure. Needless to say, cost remains a major barrier.
As the life of another great scientist comes to an end, their legacy lives on and there is the need to honor this miracle by making IVF more accessible and the process less daunting to the unfortunate few craving for a chance at child birth.
Further information about IVF on the NHS may be accessed here.