IVF couple 'will fight for others'

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The Independent Online
A couple who were told they were too old to have fertility treatment on the NHS pledged to continue the fight for other couples in their thirties as they showed off their three-week-old son for the first time yesterday.

Julie and Michael Seale thanked the anonymous businessman who paid for the test-tube baby treatment which enabled them to become a "real family" but added that they would keep pressurising the Government to adopt a national policy on fertility treatments.

Mrs Seale, 38, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, was told two years ago that she was too old to be accepted for in vitro fertilisation [IVF] treatment under her local health authority's rules, which lay down an upper age limit of 35. Had the couple lived in Wakefield - just eight miles from their home, but covered by a different health authority - Mrs Seale would have been eligible for NHS treatment until she was 42.

She had been trying for a baby for seven years and had undergone six operations, only to be told that her only chance of conceiving was through IVF.

The couple unsuccessfully took Sheffield Health Authority to the High Court to challenge the policy, as they could not afford the pounds 2,000 cost of the fertility treatment which had only a 25 per cent success rate.

After they failed, an anonymous London businessman donated the money and Mrs Seale, who was treated at the reproduction research and treatment unit and Nottingham University, became pregnant at her second attempt. Their baby, Jordan, was born on 5 February.

Mrs Seale told their benefactor, who has been sent pictures of Jordan via his solicitor: "I want to thank you for making us a family . . . If it wasn't for you, Jordan would not have been born."

She said yesterday: "We are going to keep up the fight for other couples even though we may be a small voice in the wilderness." Mr Seale added: "It is appalling that there is up to 15 years' difference in the availability of IVF on the NHS and people can only have it if they've got the money to pay."

Dr Simon Thornton, medical director of the clinic where she was treated, said the IVF situation in other countries was much better. "In Australia, the government funds the system so that couples have six attempts on the health service, and in Israel couples have as many IVF attempts as it takes to have two children."