Baby joy for Havant couple after health officials relax IVF rules

SO HAPPY Jimmy and Karen Mardon with their son Freddie.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (113103-834)
SO HAPPY Jimmy and Karen Mardon with their son Freddie. Picture: Allan Hutchings (113103-834)

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IT TOOK a five-year fight and thousands of pounds – but parents Karen and Jimmy Mardon now have a baby boy thanks to IVF treatment.

The couple are ecstatic after a change in health guidelines meant they finally qualified for infertility treatment on the NHS.

Karen, 36, and husband Jimmy, 34, were originally told they were not eligible because local health officials only offered the treatment to women aged between 36 and 39.

They were left devastated after going private and spending their £10,000 life savings on two failed IVF cycles.

But they didn’t give up and at the end of 2009 a long-campaigned-for change in guidelines meant women aged between 30 and 35 became eligible for one IVF cycle on the NHS – if they met a raft of other conditions.

Karen was then 35 and after treatment at Salisbury Fertility Centre she gave birth to baby Freddie on August 13. ‘Our dream finally came true,’ she said. ‘We were close to giving up hope and it’s only because we had each other that we could stay positive. But now after all the waiting and problems we came up against we are just so happy to finally get it right.

‘When Freddie was born I could hardly believe it was happening. It felt like I was going to wake up at any moment. He’s a lovely chilled-out baby – just like his parents had to be to get through all this.

‘I’ve kept all the newspaper cuttings to show him when he’s old enough what we had to do so he could be born.’

Dad Jimmy, of Stockheath Way, Havant, is planning to enter the Great South Run in October in aid of Salisbury Fertility Centre.

He said: ‘Hopefully other people struggling to have children in the same way will see that we got there in the end and not give up hope.

‘That way something good can come out of all the problems we had.

‘It was a long road but now we have a beautiful baby boy, and every time I look at him I know it was all worth it.’

Strict local rules governing who could have IVF on the NHS changed in December 2009 after South Central Assisted Commissioning Group adopted a new policy. It brought rules at all nine health authorities it covers – including Hampshire – in-line.

But the policy still flouts guidelines by medicines watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) on NHS access to IVF.

Nice states that couples who have experienced infertility for three years should be offered three free treatment cycles between the ages of 22 and 39 – not 30 to 35. The local rule change means health officials can help more women fall pregnant.

But chiefs say they simply cannot afford to comply with the Nice guidelines as it would cost an estimated £16m to 20m a year instead of the current £3.8m.

Dr Sally Nelson, medical advisor to the commissioning group said: ‘The clinical evidence shows that IVF is more effective in women under 35 years, so for every 100 women who are 23 to 35 years old, more than 20 will get pregnant after one cycle of IVF treatment, with this figure dropping to 10 in every 100 women aged 39.’