Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Six years ago, Brandi and Shelton Koskie walked out of an infertility clinic just after learning that they couldn't get pregnant naturally but could pay $20,000 for in-vitro fertilization, which wasn't covered by their insurance.
As they walked across the parking lot, Brandi Koskie started talking about a plan: Build a website, call it BabyOrBust.com, and ask visitors for $1 donations toward IVF.

"By the time we got to the car, it was a done decision," Shelton said. "My wife is one of those people. She comes up with crazy ideas and executes them really well."

Soon, they were being invited to appear on national television and radio shows and raised $7,500 in small donations from all over the world. Through investing and saving money on their own, they reached their $20,000 goal within two years, and had a daughter named Paisley on their first IVF attempt. She's a toddler now.

"People look in all crazy ways to cover their infertility treatments," said Ken Mosesian executive director of the American Fertility Association, a non-profit group.

Since health insurance doesn't cover IVF in most states, couples have to come up with new, aggressive ways to raise money -- and fast, because the more time passes, the less likely a couple is to conceive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6.7 million women between the ages of 15 and 45 have fertility issues, which is about 10.9 percent of them. However, only 15 states have laws that require insurance companies to cover infertility treatments, and seven of them specifically exclude IVF, according to the National Infertility Association. Babara Collura, the president and CEO of the National Infertility Association, said the hunt for IVF funds has changed drastically in recent years.

Five years ago, many couples might take out second mortgages on their homes and go into debt to pay for IVF, said Mosesian's colleague, Patricia Mendell, a member of the AFA board of directors. Back then, Collura's organization would hold workshops on how hopeful parents could refinance their homes or get personal loans to pay for IVF.

But new economic realities make that much harder.

"Think about how difficult it is now to get credit cards," Collura said. "A lot of things that people could access cash with are either gone or very, very different now."

Instead, people are turning to social media to ask their friends, families and strangers for money, either by building a website or just using a Facebook page. One couple even put a valuable Barry Sanders football card for sale on eBay last week to pay for IVF.

The positive aspect of this is that people are talking about infertility more than ever before, Collura said.

That includes the Koskies, who have been open about Shelton Koskie's birth defect, which prevents his sperm cells from getting to his semen.

"For him, the biggest part was not only that we had become a male factor infertility [case], but that his crazy wife wanted to talk about it on the Internet," Brandi Koskie said.

But he trusted her, he said. They also made BabyOrBust.com about infertility in general, with a whole section about IVF. Now, Brandi and Shelton get one or two letters a day from couples struggling to pay for IVF treatments.

The most interesting one she's heard about: a San Francisco couple that hosted a political-campaign-style dinner, charging guests they invited on Facebook and Twitter $35 a plate.

Things could get easier for parents struggling to pay for IVF, however. A bill called the Family Act of 2011 is making its way through Congress, and it would offer a tax credit to help couples with out-of-pocket costs. Until then, would-be parents will have to keep thinking up new ideas.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HRT could have triggered pregnancy in world's oldest mum

Dawn Brook, this year now 69

When Dawn Brooke became the world's oldest natural mother at 59 it left doctors with a mystery to solve.
How was it possible for the British housewife, who was well beyond the average age for the menopause of 51 and was not having any fertility treatment, to produce the egg that allowed her to conceive?
Now the Daily Mail can reveal that Mrs Brooke, who gave birth to a healthy son, Harry, was on hormone replacement therapy when she conceived.
This, the experts believe, may have led to the astonishing pregnancy and birth in 1997 - which the family kept secret for a decade.
HRT is normally taken after a woman has gone through the menopause and is unable to conceive.
However, fertility doctors believe in rare cases it is possible that the hormones in the medication can cause the ovaries to release a few last eggs.
There have been a number of previous cases of women, who had already gone through an early menopause, falling pregnant while on HRT.
A family friend said: "She had upped her dose before a romantic weekend away when she thinks she became pregnant with Harry.
"She wasn't on any fertility treatment or IVF but she was on HRT at the time and they think it might have been the thing that caused the pregnancy."
The world's oldest mum, Dawn Brooke, in 1980
Dr Geeta Nargund, head of reproductive medicine at St George's Hospital, London, said: "There are rare cases of spontaneous ovulation for women on HRT.
"In the past we've seen it happen with women who have gone through early
menopause. There's a very small chance of that happening.
"It's possible for ovulation to continue on and off around the age of menopause but not once a woman is completely postmenopausal."
Mrs Brooke married Harry's father, Raymond Brooke, now 74, at their £1million home in Guernsey in the summer of 1997.
A few weeks later she gave birth by caesarean at the island's Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
Mrs Brooke was desperate to keep her record a secret.
A friend said: "She was completely shocked when she realised that she was the world's oldest natural mother and didn't want anyone knowing about it.
"She looks very young for her age and so most people were probably unaware that she was 59 when she gave birth."
Even the couple's close friends did not know.
John Trowbridge and his wife, Jean, who are Harry's godparents and who were also witnesses at the Brookes' wedding, were not told.
Mr Trowbridge said: "We never knew Dawn's age and they never mentioned anything about her being the world's oldest natural mother to us. It's a big surprise."
Details of the record finally emerged last month when the family spoke of their happiness at
having a son so late in life.
They told how Harry was an exceptionally bright boy who excels at maths.
Like many 10-year-olds, he is also a fan of Harry Potter.
London-born Mrs Brooke has a daughter, Lisa Loftus-Otway, 39, who lives in Austin, Texas, and son Nick Otway, 33, from a previous marriage.
Her mother, Gladys Chivers, lives in a nursing home in Sussex and turns 101 next week.
Mr Brooke was born in Yorkshire and worked in computers in California for 25-years before settling in the Channel Islands.
He has two adult daughters from his first marriage. They live in the U.S.
Doctors say it is extremely rare for a woman to have children once past their mid 50s - and it is very unusual for a woman over 54 to be ovulating.
The world record for the oldest non-IVF births was held by Ruth Kistler who, at 57, had a daughter in Los Angeles in 1956.
The British record for the oldest birth without fertility treatment was set by Kathleen Campbell of Kimberley, Nottinghamshire.
She was 55 when her son Joby was born in 1987.
The world's oldest mother is Carmela Bousada who gave birth last December, seven days before her 67th birthday, after she lied to doctors about her age to undergo IVF treatment.
Patricia Rashbrook, 62, became Britain's oldest mother last July when she gave birth to a boy conceived through IVF.