I am exhausted, but we just couldn't give up

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The Independent Online

Two weeks ago Donna Hunt again failed to conceive through IVF. It was her eleventh attempt in six years at her fourth different clinic. In total she and her partner Neil Anderton have spent an estimated pounds 13,000.

"Had I had the information the HFEA has now given out I would have used it to decide where to go." she said.

Ms Hunt's problems with conceiving stem from two ectopic pregnancies [where the embryo implants in the fallopian tube] in the late Seventies, resulting in the loss of one of her ovaries and both her tubes. IVF was the only alternative.

Most of her treatments have been subsidised by the National Health Service, although for the last two she has chosen to go private. It has still proved financially crippling. "We've taken out loan after loan, we've done without holidays, carpeting and new clothes to pay for it." said Ms Hunt, a human resources assistant at Barnet General Hospital. "It's been extremely difficult. but we just couldn't give up."

She added: "Emotionally it has taken its toll. I'm absolutely exhausted all the time. I've also put on around three stone in weight because of all the hormones so you end up feeling not particularly good about yourself.

"It also takes a toll on your relationship. Neil and I had to sit down and talk things through. Like most men it doesn't come automatically to do that. The treatment before last, when I had a miscarriage at six weeks, he took it very badly and practically lived in the pub for a good couple of weeks." With support from Issue, the national fertility association, she has had two treatments at London's Royal Free Hospital, one at University College Hospital and six attempts at St Thomas's. "At St Thomas's they took me aside after the sixth and said, 'We think you've done everything you can and you'd better stop'."

But Ms Hunt and Mr Anderton sought a second opinion at the private London Women's Clinic in Harley Street. Since then Ms Hunt has had two treatments there which have been unsuccessful and is signed up for a third. Her next treatment will not take place until February. "If that doesn't work I think we will call a halt."

n Issue can be reached on 0121-344 4414; 509 Aldridge Road, Birmingham B44 8NA.