Post's fertility competition produces its first offspring

By Sarah Lagan

A Worcestershire couple who won free fertility treatment as part of
a controversial Birmingham Post campaign have announced they are
expecting twins.

The Trinity paper launched its “Funded Fertility Treatment For All” campaign in January to help four couples chosen by fertility experts to conceive.

The
Post said the campaign was a bid to urge primary health care trusts
(PCT) not offering funded fertility treatment to meet the 1 April 2005
deadline set by the then health secretary, John Reid. In the Midlands,
only 30 per cent of couples applying can get access to NHS-funded
fertility treatment, the Post said.

The couple expecting twins,
Lydia and William Stark, have written a diary in the Post about their
experiences during treatment, including the difficult period leading up
to their 12-week scan.

Mrs Stark told the paper: “Getting funding
and treatment through the Post and medics at Midland Fertility Services
has given us the chance to be parents we never thought we’d be. We
would qualify for NHS treatment, but so few women actually get funded
through our PCT that we would have to wait at least a year, if not
longer, to get on top of the queue.”

The Post has been publishing
a series of in-depth articles on fertility treatment and, with the
permission of the couples involved, will be documenting their progress.

Post
reporter Emma Brady, who has worked on the campaign since its launch,
said: “It’s great to get such good news in the paper in the current
climate. The campaign highlights the disparity of NHS fertility funding
and how those who cannot afford it are being sidelined. We want all
PCTs to offer one free cycle on the NHS, and we plan to stick to our
campaign.”When the campaign was launched the director of public
interest group Comment, Josephine Quintavalle, blasted the paper,
likening its campaign to “a media game… to sell newspapers”, and
accused it of turning fertility funding into a “lottery”.

Post
editor Fiona Alexander stood by her campaign arguing it had put
infertility on the agenda nationally. She insisted that it was not a
“win a baby competition” and pointed out that IVF funding was already a
lottery.

She said: “We are doing what we think the Government
should be doing and putting our money where our mouth is.” Alexander is
on maternity leave and has just had a baby.

Two couples who
received a cycle of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and a course of
IVF were unsuccessful and a third, unnamed couple, have had a positive
pregnancy test after a frozen embryo transfer. They are due a second
scan on Monday.

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