Despite her own troubles in conceiving, Holly Atkinson, who is waiting for her fourth round of IVF, has donated some of her eggs, resulting in another woman being able to have a much longed-for child.
The 32-year-old from Charnock Richard, who had previously had a miscarriage, fell pregnant after her second IVF cycle with the NHS four years ago, with daughter Mia arriving on October 29 2015 - coincidentally, during National Fertility Week.
Desperate for another child, Holly and her husband Mark, 33, sought private treatment last summer with CARE Fertility, which has a satellite clinic in Bolton, as well as the main centre in Manchester.
With the intention of donating eggs, she increased her medication to ensure she produced a high quantity and whilst she did not fall pregnant, she was pleased to hear a woman did use her eggs and had a baby.
Holly reveals: “We started trying to conceive just after we bought our first house at the age of 20. I got pregnant after a year but sadly I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. After this, we continued to try, thinking it would happen quickly but it didn’t.
“Because of our age - being around 24/25 - we were not taken seriously. By the time I was 26, Mark’s GP referred us for IVF and agreed that should have been done a long time ago.
“We had our first round of IVF through the NHS at St Mary’s Hospital in September 2014. I had 12 eggs collected but only two fertilised and turned into embryos. They were both transferred to my womb. Sadly that did not work.
“We started treatment again at the beginning of February and had five eggs collected this time. We were devastated as that pretty much halved our chances, but it was quality, not quantity. "We had two embryos viable and had them both put back. Two weeks later we found out I was pregnant which was one of the most emotional moments of my life. It was everything we had been waiting for.”
During Holly and Mark’s seven week scan, two heartbeats were revealed, but sadly, by the 12 week scan, one embryo had stopped growing. Holly had a healthy pregnancy from thereon and Mia was born.
The couple tried again for a brother or sister for Mia, but nothing happened. As the NHS was no longer an option, they looked into an egg sharing scheme with CARE Fertility, which helped to reduced the cost of the IVF.
Holly, who works for Galloway’s Society for the Blind, adds: “We wanted to donate some of my eggs to another couple as a way of giving something back to someone who has not been as lucky as us. I was quite poorly afterwards as the drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs gave me ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). I had 25 eggs collected, so I donated 12 and kept 13. “Of my 13, again only two developed and I had one put back. I now have one frozen embryo left.”
Holly’s egg donation was successful, but as all patient information is kept confidential, she was not given any other details.
She adds: “I over the moon. Looking at my little girl and knowing I was able to do it for someone else makes me really proud.”
Holly says she has not been given an explanation over why she has had fertility issues, but revealed she had polycystic ovaries (PCO), but this did not mean she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
She says: “My doctor dismissed the fact I had PCOS as I did not present other symptoms such as being overweight or being hairy. I was given a diabetic drug to regulate the hormones, which is given to PCOS patients. There is not enough limelight on PCOS as people don’t understand the difference between PCOS and polycystic ovaries.
“Being on this journey I have discovered a few friends have had miscarriages, PCOS and endometriosis and others are undergoing IVF.
“It is very difficult. You have to take care of yourselves and your relationship as it can be a massive strain.
“Even though we have out little girl and had already experienced a negative test result in our first round, getting a negative more recently was still really hard.”