A COUPLE who desperately want a baby together say they have been given fresh hope after people donated almost £4,000 online so they could resume fertility treatment.

Klara Halpin and Craig Longstaff set up an online fundraising campaign after spending all their savings on an unsuccessful course of IVF last year.

The couple, from Bishop Auckland, did not qualify for free IVF treatment from the NHS so turned to a private clinic, which has cost them about £10,000 so far.

The Northern Echo:

After one chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage and with their money running out they appealed to the County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group for NHS treatment – backed by MP Dehenna Davison – but lost.

So, with six embryos still frozen at a clinic in Manchester, they made a last-ditch plea to the public for help and within days more than 100 people had donated £3,765 via the gofundme page.

Miss Halpin, 30, said: “We have been absolutely blown away. How can we thank people, what words are there for making our dream happen?

“We know it might not work but at least we can go and get more IVF without panicking – we’ve never not had stress before going in and that means a lot.

“Everyone who donated has given us that hope for the first time in a long time.”

Electrician Mr Longstaff, 39, and Miss Halpin, who works with children with special or emotional needs in County Durham, had tried to conceive naturally for about four years.

Last February, after extensive investigation, Miss Halpin was told her fallopian tubes were blocked and she had them removed.

They were told that to have a child together they would need IVF treatment but, because Mr Longstaff has two sons from a past relationship, they would have to go private.

The Northern Echo:

Miss Halpin said: “For four or five years we’d been trying for a baby, month by month nothing was happening.

“After 18 months we asked for help from the NHS fertility experts, there was a lot of back and forth with different professionals which took a long time and lots of tests from 2016 to early 2020.

“When we knew the only option for us was IVF we were told ‘you’re not entitled full stop’ so we’d have to self-fund.

“We looked around and it is a very very expensive process, the cheapest clinic that could help us is in Manchester so we had to travel back and forth.

“In July we went through a full round of IVF, we spent around £10,000, no matter what the starting price is there are extras and we paid for a hotel to stay there for three weeks.

“People think you go for IVF, you have a baby. But the chances are so low. You go through it and think to yourself ‘I need this to work’ because not only do you want a child but also because you don’t have any more money.”

The first round of treatment ended in a chemical pregnancy and the second ended in a miscarriage, which is when they made an unsuccessful appeal to the CCG.

Miss Halpin said: “I was really upset by that and a few friends and family suggested an online appeal, saying they wanted to help.

“We were unsure at first then decided to do it and see what happened, if people wanted to donate they could but if they didn’t then they wouldn’t.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us.

“The money changes the game completely for us, there are different tests we can have to really investigate and give us a much better chance going forward.

“Even though I’m desperate to have a child, to be a mum, it is really crucifying emotionally to go through. To not know what is going on with your body, then to see two lines and think ‘oh my God it is going to work’ then in the blink of eye it passed. It has been hard.

“Since my miscarriage in December I’ve tried to stop the negative thoughts, but when do you say you have to stop because it’s just too much?

“We’re really excited to go back into treatment. We know it might not work, but if it does to explain to our child that the kindness of so many people helped us have them would be amazing.”

Through their experiences, the couple have learnt of the difficulty many would-be parents face when trying to access treatment.

Miss Halpin supports the Fight for IVF campaign which calls for an end the “IVF postcode lottery” as CCGs across the UK offer women under 40 different levels of access to NHS treatment.

Campaign founder and infertility blogger Amber Izzo said: “We are absolutely behind Klara and are pleased that the generosity of others have allowed her and Craig to try and expand their family privately, but saddened that this has to be the case.

“We are continuing to work extremely hard to campaign against the unjust system in the UK.”

Mr Longstaff said: "We are so grateful for everyone's kindness towards us and I'm really proud of Klara's campaigning to help others."

A spokesperson for NHS County Durham CCG said: "We sympathise with the couple's situation and the frustration and distress this must cause.

"Under Section 3 of the NHS Act 2006, the CCG has to arrange for the provision of health services in order to meet the reasonable requirements for the whole population.

"To enable us to do this we annually publish a Value Based Clinical Commissioning Policy which details the procedures the CCG does not routinely commission and those funded in specific clinical circumstances. 

"With regards to IVF treatment the policy states that this treatment for patients with existing children is not routinely commissioned.

"Should your GP feel you are exceptionally different from the general population with the same condition you can submit an Individual Funding Request.

"All GPs are familiar with this process and we would advise anyone in this situation to discuss this with their GP."