“A breath of fresh air” – Kirstie and Chris’ first appointment at UR Vistahermosa in Alicante

Kirstie and Chris Fertility Journey at UR Vistahermosa

Updated May 16, 2024

Kirstie and Chris jetted off to Spain this week for their first appointment at UR Vistahermosa in Alicante, describing the experience as a “breath of fresh air”.

The moment the couple stepped inside, they were struck by how different UR Vistahermosa was from previous clinics they had visited.

“Our first impressions were really positive because it was busy, it was good to see that there were other couples at the clinic,” recalls Kirstie.

“A breath of fresh air” - Kirstie and Chris’ first appointment at UR Vistahermosa in Alicante

“When we arrived, all the professionals that we had been speaking to via email came and introduced themselves and made us feel so welcome.

“We met our coordinator, Christina, and spoke to the gyanecologist who explained my treatment plan going forward. He did an ultrasound and a mock transfer test that he was more than happy with, then we both got our blood screening done and Chris gave his sample.”

The doctor created a treatment plan and the couple’s coordinator explained the next steps.

“Our coordinator stayed with us the whole time we were there, it was very personal,” says Kirstie. “She came and explained it all and sorted our medication so we just had to go to the chemist. When we were getting our bloods taken, she booked us a taxi to take us back to the hotel.

“They even booked the hotel for us. We were gobsmacked, it was amazing.”

Kirstie has now switched her HRT for the Microgynon pill in preparation for an embryo transfer, which is pencilled in for the second week of July. In the meantime, Chris’ sperm sample has been frozen and the clinic is actively sourcing an egg donor.

The couple travelled to Spain on Tuesday but returned home to Northern Ireland the following day after the appointment to reunite with their two-year-old son Jamie. It was the longest time the couple had ever spent apart from their little boy.

Kirstie said of the experience at UR Vistahermosa: “We honestly could not falter the clinic and our experience was so pleasant and we enjoyed it and when we came out, it felt like a breath of fresh air. It was so nice.

“We feel like we’ve had a huge weight off our shoulders. After giving birth to Jamie, I have never had an ultrasound, so it was good that the clinic had a look.

“All our questions were answered, there was positive feedback and the clinic are more than happy to proceed, which is good.”

“We really enjoyed our first experience and we couldn’t think of anywhere better to go.”

Updated April 16, 2024

Kirstie and Chris are no strangers to fertility treatment, with their young son Jamie born as a result of IVF egg donation in Madrid in 2021.

Now, nearly three years later, the couple are preparing to return to Spain in the hope of adding to their family.

Kirstie and Chris, both aged 30 and from Northern Ireland, are the latest couple to take part in Fertility Road’s Fertility Journeys project and will be travelling to Alicante in a few weeks to start treatment at UR Vistahermosa.

Kirstie, who works in the childcare industry, discovered at a young age that she would need to undergo egg donation IVF if she wanted to have a family.

“I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure/menopause when I was 16 years old,” recalls Kirstie. “I had never had a period so there was concern and after keyhole surgery, the doctors were able to diagnose after not visualising any ovaries. I was obviously in complete shock but at 16 years of age, I was not able to process the diagnosis.”

It wasn’t until Kirstie met retail manager Chris in October 2012, aged 19, that her diagnosis really sunk in.

“A breath of fresh air” - Kirstie and Chris’ first appointment at UR Vistahermosa in Alicante 2

She said: “Quite soon into our relationship we decided to get some further advice as we could not find anybody who had this diagnosis at such a young age.

“The medical condition I have means that I will be on HRT for the rest of my life, there is zero chance of conceiving a child naturally and I suffer from all the usual menopause symptoms that would normally impact women in their 50s. It is very difficult to deal with.”

The couple’s fertility journey started in August 2016 when they underwent an NHS-funded round of egg donation IVF in their native Northern Ireland. Unfortunately the cycle did not work, which left the couple devastated.

“From here, we decided to go abroad to seek an egg donor as the rules in the UK make it very hard to receive anonymous egg donation,” Kirstie says. “We settled on a clinic in Crete, Greece and travelled there in September 2018 for our first embryo transfer. Unfortunately this again resulted in a negative test. We had one frozen embryo left from this cycle and returned to Greece in April 2019 for the frozen transfer. This time we got a positive test and saw the heartbeat at six weeks. Unfortunately the embryo did not grow any further and I suffered a silent miscarriage at nine weeks which resulted in me needing a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure to remove the pregnancy. This was by far the hardest thing Chris and I have ever gone through. It took a long time to come to terms with this.”

After taking time to explore their options, Kirstie and Chris settled on a clinic in Madrid. However there were new and unexpected hurdles to overcome, as Kirstie recalls: “There were lots of delays with this cycle due to Covid and my thyroid was overactive, so I had to go on new medication and get the thyroid settled before trying again.”

Following delays caused by lockdowns in the UK and Spain, the couple finally travelled to Madrid in May 2021 for an embryo transfer.

“We only had one embryo to use,” says Kirstie. “We had a really good feeling this time and it turned out to be right, the test was positive and the whole pregnancy went smoothly except for the early stages when I suffered from hyperemesis.

“The labour was pretty straightforward and our baby boy Jamie was born on 30th December 2021, five weeks early.”

Now, with a healthy two-year-old, Kirstie and Chris felt the time was right to grow their family, and decided to apply for free IVF at UR Visterhermosa.

Kirstie said: “We have always followed the Fertility Journeys closely and really liked the look and feel of UR after doing some research.

“Believe it or not, with Jamie now being two years old, we actually really miss the whole IVF journey. It gave us something to chase, something to dream of and we both have the general mindset of never giving up. We decided to apply for the primary reason we want to give our son Jamie a sibling. The fact that I was able to get pregnant, maintain the pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby is very positive for me and I have no doubts that we could do it again.

“The cost of treatment is a huge factor for us, we have already spent so much money to get to where we are today, both our families do not come from privileged backgrounds so it’s really all up to us to earn money and put any savings towards expanding our family. The Fertility Journeys programme really offers us our only hope.”

“A breath of fresh air” - Kirstie and Chris’ first appointment at UR Vistahermosa in Alicante 4

Kirstie and Chris say they were ‘ecstatic’ to find their application had been successful and have already met with the team via Zoom.

“We plan on hopefully going to Spain in May this year, once I get my passport renewal sorted,” says Kirstie. “We are going to provide Chris’ sample so the team can start the process of creating an embryo and also to get some initial tests done. Hopefully if everything goes well we will do the embryo transfer sometime this summer.”

She added: “Our experience has been very positive so far. All communications from UR Vistahermosa have been very clear and transparent. The doctors and patient care team have shown great kindness towards us.

“We were absolutely over the moon, and words can never express our level of gratitude towards the clinic for choosing us. We can’t wait to get started.”

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    Picture of Laura Cooke
    Laura Cooke
    Laura is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about fertility, egg and sperm donation and IVF. She has previously written about the subject for publications including Men's Health UK and Stylist.

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