Government Funding for In-Vitro Fertilization in Alberta
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1 in 6 Alberta families struggle with infertility. Infertility is a medical condition with a highly-effective treatment. Due to the exorbitant cost of current IVF treatment, families have multiple-embryos transferred in hopes of increasing their chances of having a child, resulting in complicated pregnancies, complicated births and increased healthcare costs.
According to studies; if IVF were funded, Alberta would save $78,000,000 in the first five years due to a reduction in multiple births. The Federal and/or Provincial governments need to make the responsible decision and fund IVF treatments, showing that they care about Alberta Families.
My name is Matt and I’d like to share a story with you. This story isn’t about me; it’s about my wife, Melissa. When Melissa was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her parents were naturally, devastated by the news. It’s hard to imagine the toll that cancer can take on a family unless you’ve gone through it yourself and if you have, then you know how hard it must have been.
The next step was treatment which, while lifesaving, is almost more debilitating than the cancer itself. Melissa was a tough kid though and she pulled through and came out the other side in remission. However, that didn’t last long. A year later, the cancer was back. The treatments had to get more aggressive. You know the signs; hair loss, weight loss, changes in the skin and eyes, loss of energy, not to mention the unseen effects. Just before her 5th birthday, she underwent a bone marrow transplant and I am happy to say that, 25 years later, she is considered to be cancer-free.
But, being cancer-free isn’t the same as being free from cancer. There are still remnants of the strain it put on her family and her body. She’s lucky in a way; being so young at the time, she doesn’t remember too many of the details of what she went through, but her body does.
One of the many side effects of the treatments for cancer is fertility problems. She and I have known each other for many years, so I was aware of this before I proposed; I don’t want you thinking she hid it from me. We got married on May 28, 2016 and bought our first house a few months later. It’s not perfect and it needs some work, but it’s in a great location in the community-minded city of Leduc, near schools and playgrounds and has 2 beautiful big yards (front and back). It’s the perfect house for kids. We tried to conceive naturally for about a year, even though we knew there wasn’t much chance. Finally, we got a referral to the regional fertility clinic in Calgary, as the public fertility clinic in Edmonton was no longer dealing with IVF.
After our first visit and test, we were informed that the doctor was unable to locate any viable eggs in Melissa and not only would we have to go through with IVF, but we would also need a donated egg. Melissa was pretty emotional that day, she loves kids; she works as an Educational Assistant in an elementary school and has a diploma in Child and Youth Care Counselling. I’ve wanted to be a dad since I was a teenager, but this isn’t about me, because I had a choice. This is about a woman whose choice was taken from her by her treatments, when she was too young to make the choice. Obviously, her parents and doctors had no other choice to make and the treatments have come a long way in 25 years. But Melissa wants nothing more than to be a mom and she isn’t able to… She felt like she failed as a mother, as a wife, as a woman… It was hard on both of us.
I know what some of you might be thinking; Why not look into adoption then? We took a look into both public and private adoptions. Private adoption is almost as expensive as the IVF treatments and public adoption holds a whole mountain of emotional risk, especially if the birth parents are or get involved. We decided we’d love to adopt, but adopting won’t help the depression Melissa feels about being unable to have her own child, being unable to do the one thing every woman should be able to do. These are her words, not mine. Nothing I say has made her feel better; she wants to be pregnant, to feel her baby grow inside her, to feel it kick for the first time.
We’ve braved terrible weather conditions and 2-and-a-half hour long drives plenty of times over the last year, doing tests for her, tests for me, more tests and we’ve also done plenty of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for results. We had to do tests to figure out Melissa’s genetics, as a regular blood test won’t work due to here bone marrow transplant. Then, we had to do tests to see if her body can handle carrying a child. So, we paid $500 for some medications that would simulate a pregnancy and finally, we got the news a few weeks ago that everything points to her being able to carry a child. Hurray!
It felt like we were near the summit of the highest mountain and exhausted, but then as the clouds cleared, we realized we were only halfway. The costs of IVF are overwhelming to think of.
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