A couple desperate to become parents spent £55,000 to have their dream baby – after an eight-yearbattle and two crippling bank loans.
Joe Thorp from Addlestone, Surrey was 39 when she met her partner Tom Legg, then 24, and struggled to fall pregnant naturally after three years.
But despite initially spending around £10,000 of their savings, training manager Joe, now 49, still wasn’t pregnant and she and Tom, now 34, were devastated.
Over the next eight years Joe took out two bank loans totalling £45,000 to undergo more fertility treatment, including a further six rounds of IVF and five donor egg cycles.
Joe Thorp, 49, and Tom Legg, 34, from Addlestone, Surrey, spent £55k to have their dream baby Marshall, now 16 months
But despite two positive tests, she suffered two miscarriages both at six weeks pregnant.
The couple were considering adoption until they were informed about Instituto Bernabeu, a fertility clinic in Alicante, Spain.
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And thankfully, after two rounds of treatment abroad, Joe fell pregnant with their son Marshall, now 16 months old, with the help of an egg donor.
Joe said: ‘I met Tom when I was 39 and he was 24. We both desperately wanted to have a family, but it was harder than we could ever imagine.
Marshall arrived 11 weeks early after Joe’s placenta erupted – causing her to lose two litres of blood
The couple were thrilled to welcome a baby boy after suffering two miscarriages, both at six weeks pregnant, during their fertility journey
‘Our only hope left was IVF. We were on a mission to have a baby and weren’t going to let anything stop us from having a family.
‘It became evident my own eggs were infertile as the IVF failed twice.
‘We were considering adoption until our UK consultant suggested using an egg donor.’
Joe took out two bank loans totalling £45,000 over eight years to undergo fertility treatment, including a further six rounds of IVF and five donor egg cycles
Joe admitted she wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but after being informed that two to eight per cent of the DNA would be hers as the baby was growing inside her, she decided to go ahead with it.
‘I was thrilled when the fifth round of egg donor IVF came back positive,’ said Joe.
‘Tom was over the moon, he has always wanted to be a dad.
‘But at six weeks I miscarried. It was difficult, but we managed to stay emotionally strong and determined to keep going.’
Joe said it was the best feeling in the world when her pregnancy passed the six week mark
The couple also spent £10,000 of their savings, but say having little Marshall makes every penny spent well worth it
Breakdown of Joe and Tom’s costs
IVF in UK: £32,300 (inc meds)
IVF in Alicante: £11,200
Flights and accommodation: £3,220
Other medication/scans in UK: £2,480
Traditional Chinese Medicine /Acupuncture: £5,800
The average UK price of egg donor IVF is £7,000 plus medication.
After enrolling at the cheaper Spanish clinic, medics there conducted additional tests on Joe and discovered she had ‘killer cells’ which caused her to have an overactive immune system.
She was then put on a different type of medication and consequently fell pregnant.
‘The journey began successful as I was pregnant at the first attempt,’ she recalled.
‘Sadly I miscarried at six weeks, but we still had two frozen eggs to use. We flew back to Spain and it was another success.
Joe said Marshall may not have her DNA but she feels very strongly that he is still her biological son
The couple spent 51 days in hospital with Marshall until he was fit to come home for Christmas, a month before his due date
‘It was the best feeling in the world when the pregnancy went a week past six, and before we knew it six months had passed.’
Joe battled with pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy and little Marshall arrived 11 weeks early as her placenta erupted – causing her to lose two litres of blood.
‘At 3lbs 3oz, he was put immediately into a plastic bag,’ she said.
‘We spent 51 days in hospital until he was fit to come home for Christmas, a month before his due date.
Joe and Tom have since brought Marshall to Alicante to meet the fertility specialist who made it all happen
Joe and Tom are sharing their emotional story in the hope it will help other hopeful parents in their position
‘He may not have my DNA but he is my biological son. I will tell him as soon as he is old enough to understand and it will never change how much we love him.’
The couple have since brought Marshall to Alicante to meet the fertility specialist who made it all happen.
Tom added: ‘I am so proud of our fertility journey; we went through a lot to make sure he is here today so it is important for him to know.
‘I hope our story helps other hopeful parents.’
How does IVF work?
The menstrual cycle is first suppressed with medication before other drugs are used to encourage the ovaries to produce more eggs than usual.
An ultrasound scan is carried out to check the development of the eggs, and medication is used to help them mature.
The eggs are then collected by a needle inserted into the ovaries, via the vagina, before the eggs are fertilised with sperm.
Finally the fertilised embryo is transferred into the womb to grow and develop.
A single IVF cycle has an average success rate of 32.3 per cent for those under 35, dropping to five per cent for women aged 43 and 44 and only 1.9 per cent for those 45 and older.
Despite IVF being most effective for the under 35s, 57 per cent of IVF cycles are undergone by women 35 or older.
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