AFTER eight years trying to conceive and one failed IVF attempt, Claire and Phillip Bond were near breaking point.
Approaching the age of 40, Mrs Bond’s lifelong dream of having a child was fading fast and the only reason the couple were given for their inability to conceive was “unexplained infertility”.
The Bolton News reported the couple’s joy at giving birth to their son, Daniel, on Christmas Day, but their dreams only came true thanks to help from their families to fund their second IVF attempt.
Guidance from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) recommends that up to three IVF cycles should be available on the NHS if the woman is aged between 23 and 39 at the time of treatment, and one or both partners has been diagnosed with a fertility problem.
In other boroughs, such as Bury and Chorley, couples get the recommended three, but in Bolton they only get one. Mr and Mrs Bond were so desperate to have a child, they even considered moving house.
Mrs Bond, aged 39, said: “We first started to try for a baby after we got married in June, 2006, but when that didn’t work, we went down the IVF route.
“It is a postcode lottery, which was really frustrating for us.”
Before Mrs Bond got married, she prepared for motherhood by losing five stone, dropping from a size 22 to a size 12.
She said: “You get married and just assume that you get pregnant straight away. I had numerous tests and fertility treatment and all they could tell me was that I had unexplained infertility.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mother, so it was horrific when the first IVF treatment didn’t work — for Phil too.
“We were lucky that our parents helped us financially for our second attempt.”
Mrs Bond, a medical secretary, went to see a private midwife in London to check that her body was at its best to conceive before having her treatment at The Beaumont Hospital.
She added: “I was told I had an underactive thyroid and a vitamin D deficiency and we were advised to see a thyroid specialist before we began the second IVF attempt.
“He was marvellous — he constantly monitored my levels throughout and put my mind at rest. I went to the gym and a bit of a detox to make sure I was at my healthiest. I was finally ready for the second attempt in March last year.”
Mrs Bond says that when she found out she was pregnant, it was “life changing”.
She added: “Pregnancy was amazing. I loved every minute of it and was surprised that I didn’t have complications despite my age. Christmas will always be an extra special time for us now that Daniel is here. He was worth the wait.”
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, explaining Bolton’s IVF policy, said: “The provision of IVF treatment by the NHS varies between different areas because policies are decided locally.
“All clinical commissioning groups must identify the priorities for the health of their local population and decide how they will spend the public money allocated to them.
“NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) targets its resources on improving health and reducing inequalities.
“This is an important issue for Bolton because life expectancy is two years lower here than the England average, and this gap is much wider in some areas of the borough.
“Prioritising health needs in this way is very difficult, but it is essential that the CCG manages the costs of healthcare.”
l Last summer Bolton CCG extended its offer of providing one cycle of IVF to women aged 40 to 42, in line with other areas in Greater Manchester.