Together for eight years, Alan Martin, 37, and Paula Campbell, 32, had been trying for a baby for some time before Paula was finally diagnosed with endometriosis last August. In September, with her fallopian tubes beyond repair, she had surgery to have them removed.
“It meant we had no chance physically of conceiving,” Alan says.
The couple were attending the National Maternity Hospital, Holles St, as public patients and were referred from there to the Merrion Fertility Clinic in Dublin where their first cycle of IVF is due to get under way in January.
“It’s very costly, we don’t have medical cards. We have arranged to borrow for the first treatment cycle and we will just take it from there,” says Alan.
He is lucky, he says, that he has a job with Wicklow County Council and Paula works part time, but they do have a substantial mortgage, having built a house during the boom.
Alan believes there is a need for state assistance in meeting the cost of fertility treatment, a need that some countries recognise. However, he acknowledges there are other couples far worse off than them.
David Dowse, 48, and his wife Theresa, 38, also based in Wicklow, are one such couple. Married since 1991, they have been trying for a baby for almost 20 years. Theresa has a problem with her fallopian tubes.
“A family is something you are always looking forward to, but at the end of the day there are no guarantees,” David says.
Both are medical card holders which means the cost of IVF medication is covered but they cannot meet the cost of the treatment itself. David has been unemployed for two years and Theresa works part time as a shop assistant. He points out that tax rebates (20%) are available to those who can afford treatment and says the Government should subsidise treatment by 20% for those who can’t afford it.
“It’s not easy to save when you are getting €212 a week from the state. If the Government could subsidise treatment for those who can’t afford it, it would be a help. Even if they subsidised it by 20%. In the long run, for us, having a family comes down to cost.”