Updated, 18th of May, 2023
From the Covid shutdown to substandard service from their chosen fertility clinic, Laura and Dan have encountered more than their fair share of obstacles on their IVF treatment journey.
But the couple, who live in Exeter, England, experienced a change in fortune this week as they became the latest couple to be selected for treatment at IVF-Life as part of Fertility Road’s Fertility Journey project.
Clinical psychologist Laura, 42, and carpet fitter Dan, 40, married in July 2019 and started trying for a baby shortly afterwards.
Laura said: “After six months of nothing happening, we went to the doctors and were advised to have a number of tests. The tests, in early 2020, found that my egg quality was poor, even for my age.
“And then Covid hit and put a stop to treatment. But our clinic was pretty good and, because of my age, prioritised us.”
The couple’s first round of IVF at the end of 2020 was successful, but sadly they experienced an early pregnancy loss shortly before Christmas. Two further rounds were unfortunately unsuccessful.
After the third round in April 2022, the clinic recommended that the couple should use donor eggs.
Laura said: “I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first. We did a lot of reading and research about what having a donor egg would mean and we decided we would like to go forward. “We started researching Spanish clinics, because that’s what our UK clinic recommended in terms of quality of care and waiting lists.”
Unfortunately the couple received substandard care from their chosen Spanish clinic – something that added unnecessary stress to their IVF journey.
Laura recalls: “The care we had from the clinic was really poor. It was just a nightmare.”
The couple visited the Spanish clinic in November 2022 and were told they would return for egg transfer on February 14, and would receive fortnightly updates from their patient coordinator about the donor selection process. However, things did not go as Laura and Dan had hoped.
Laura said: “I was told to start taking medication and to book scans in line with our protocol, which we did. Transfer date was fast approaching, and we had never spoken to our coordinator and hadn’t received any updates on the donor selection and whether we would be travelling on the identified date.
“After raising concerns with the clinic, we were told they hadn’t found us a donor. The impact this has on our protocol was never discussed with us by the clinic. Two days after we were told they hadn’t found us a donor, I received an email telling me our donor had dropped out and to stop taking the medication immediately, which was really confusing to us as we had been told we didn’t have a donor yet. I finally managed to speak to our patient coordinator following this who accused me of taking the medication without the agreement of the clinic, stating I should never have started the medication without them first confirming they had found a donor. I had to provide all the email evidence to show the clinic had told me to start the medication and I had only done what they asked me to do.
“We spoke to a manager at the clinic about building relationships and trust and to take some time to get to know a new patient coordinator, which we were happy to do. However, 24 hours after this phone-call, we were informed that they had found a new donor and had started her stimulation. We were then asked for our decision about whether to proceed and then received a final call saying the donor was going in for egg collection and they needed a decision. “It was really difficult as we still didn’t have a relationship with the clinic or any faith in the process as we hadn’t been involved in any way.”
Laura and Dan made the difficult decision to walk away. “It was really upsetting after feeling we could be so close to finally falling pregnant and would now have to start the whole process again,” Laura said. “The whole experience was really overwhelming.”
To add insult to injury, the clinic only refunded some of the money, keeping a significant amount for tests and so-called ‘admin fees’, leaving the couple substantially out of pocket.
But thankfully, this week Laura and Dan received the happy news that they had been selected for free IVF treatment at IVF-Life in Alicante as part of Fertility Road’s Fertility Journey project.
“The news came at a really amazing time following our experience at the other clinic. I think we really didn’t realise quite how much we needed some good news.”
And Laura and Dan are already noticing a huge difference in their experiences with this new Spanish clinic.
Laura said: “It’s already made a real difference.
“I know the treatment might not work, but I think just getting the news that we won, it’s just made a massive difference to us.
“We’re just really excited and all the emails that we’ve had from the clinic so far have been absolutely adorable, so sweet, just really friendly.
“The clinic looks fantastic. We’re not nervous, we’re looking forward to getting on with it!”
Dan added: “IVF is incredibly stressful to go through and we’ve had many years of it and we now feel like a huge part of that stress has been taken away. The financial aspect of treatment can take away from why you are doing it so now we can focus on the goal and try to enjoy the process more.
“The clinic has really included me in everything so far, which is very different from our past experiences and it has really made a difference to how I feel.”
Laura and Dan’s first appointment at IVF-Life is scheduled for June 6th.