For Beverley & Colin Thomas the dream of having a baby, turned in to a living nightmare as they suffered miscarriage after miscarriage in their quest to start a family.
The couple had met in their late thirties and married as Beverly turned 40. They knew time wasn’t on their side so started trying straight away.
Given Beverley’s age, they were over the moon when within a few months she found out she was pregnant. However, by the time she was 11 weeks in to her pregnancy, she miscarried. Although the couple were distraught, they were comforted by the fact that they had conceived so easily the first time, and hoped it would be easy to fall pregnant again.
They were delighted when Beverley fell pregnant again, but didn’t want to get their hopes up and look at cots or prams until Beverley reached the 12-week marker. Their caution wasn’t unjustified as Beverley again suffered a miscarriage.
Beverley felt a lot of guilt and was convinced that she was doing something to cause these miscarriages. Colin hated Beverley blaming herself and wanted answers as to why this was happening, however their GP was unable to provide them with any answers. The couple now needed to take stock and decide if they could put themselves through the mental anguish and anxiety if they tried to conceive again.
They both agreed that having a family was really important and within a few months Beverley was expecting. The couple didn’t share their news with anyone and Beverley would conceal the bump, scared in case anyone guessed that she was having a baby. Then it happened again, another miscarriage and the couple were absolutely devastated.
Now after the third miscarriage, Beverley's UK doctors decided that there must be a reason why she was losing these babies and so started some investigations.
By now Beverley was 43, and hoped that the doctors would treat her case with some urgency, however she had to wait in line for the NHS to get around to her, in that time she fell pregnant again twice but again lost both of these babies.
When Beverley suffered her fifth miscarriage she had to undergo an operation to remove the fetus and the couple asked that they carry out tests on the fetus to determine if there was anything wrong. This was noted on her file but the surgeon didn’t see the notes and so no further tests were carried out.
Once Beverley reached 45, the NHS told her she was too old for treatment and that they would have to pay privately for IVF treatment, as she would now need donor eggs.
The couple trawled the internet and found a private clinic in the UK that they could register with for egg donation. They would have to pay a fee but there was no guarantee that they could find a black African or black Caribbean egg donor as they hadn’t matched anyone from a non-white ethnic group for over 2 years, so the couple felt they couldn’t afford to take that risk.
Beverley then read an article about in the newspaper about Barbados Fertility Centre and decided to make some enquires. The staff at the clinic were really helpful and assured her that they had plenty of black egg donors that they could use. They even offered an egg-sharing programme, where both the donor and the recipient receive reduced treatment costs for sharing the eggs.
Colin researched the clinic some more and found that they were accredited by JCI international, the US health accreditation body and that they had received their gold seal of approval on their operating procedures and patient safety standards. He also found that their success rates were higher than the national average for the UK and USA.
So the couple booked to go to Barbados for treatment, using the egg-sharing programme. The cost of flights, accommodation, and treatment all worked out to be less than they would have paid for treatment alone and the couple really enjoyed the opportunity to relax on the picturesque Caribbean island. They underwent the Healthy Mind Body Programme, which provides couples with in room massages, reflexology, acupuncture, and sessions with a trained counselor to help them cope with the negative emotions associated with infertility.
Beverley said, “The clinic were excellent, they explained everything to us, so we fully understood the procedure and tailored our treatment specifically for our needs. I also felt really comfortable using donor eggs as it was all anonymous.”
They managed to get 20 eggs from the donor, so we had 10 each. Our 10 were fertilized with Colin’s sperm and after two days only 4 of them were progressing to become good quality embryos, by day 5 only two were of good enough quality to be implanted.
The couple then returned to the UK for the agonizing 14-day wait to do a pregnancy test, which Beverley found really stressful. Beverley and Colin were overjoyed to learn that at 47 Beverley was once again pregnant, and with special medication prescribed by Barbados Fertility Centre to prevent a miscarriage, and the fact that this time they were using donor eggs, there was a strong possibility that she would carry this baby to term.
Beverley got really worried every time she had to have a scan in case anything had gone wrong, but each time was reassured by seeing her baby moving around. After 6 months Beverley and Colin allowed themselves to go shopping for the nursery and Beverley no longer concealed her bump.
In January 2009, Beverley and Colin became the proud parents to Hope, who weighed in 7lb 12oz.
Beverley said, “We are so thrilled, she is just beautiful. Colin and I have been through so much to get to this moment, and I really want to give hope to other couples that are going through the nightmare of trying to have a baby. I would recommend going to Barbados to any couple that needs treatment. The staff there are wonderful and so supportive, they kept in touch throughout my pregnancy. I only wish we had known about them sooner.”
Patient story supplied by the Barbados Fertility Centre.