December 4, 2022

Steep cost for a baby

Over the six years she was treated at a private fertility clinic, Colleen Aitken had her husband’s specially prepared sperm inserted directly into her uterus more than 20 times, with powerful drugs administered each time to stimulate her ovaries. She gave birth twice, but says the pregnancies came at a steep cost.

Over the six years she was treated at a private fertility clinic, Colleen Aitken had her husband’s specially prepared sperm inserted directly into her uterus more than 20 times, with powerful drugs administered each time to stimulate her ovaries. She gave birth twice, but says the pregnancies came at a steep cost. The number of “intra-uterine insemination” (IUI) treatments and the associated drugs well exceeded what many fertility experts describe as normal in the field and, according to doctors who later helped her, caused dangerous internal damage.

Ms Aitken eventually received emergency surgery to remove her ovaries and stop internal bleeding, leaving her unable to conceive, on hormone-replacement therapy, and according to Ms Aitken, forced to abandon her job as a public-health nurse because of continual pain and other symptoms. “There is just so much anger,” she said of her ordeal. “I wish I could go and take back what happened to me. … It has had a tremendous impact on my life,” she says.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ontario’s medical watchdog, is investigating her complaints. The Southern Ontario Fertility Technologies (SOFT) clinic where Ms Aitken was treated said it could not comment on the case. Dr James Martin, director of the clinic, was sceptical. “This person had two babies, obviously her treatment was successful,” he said. “I really don’t have any evidence as a doctor that her ovaries were damaged.”

Ms Aitken’s case forms part of a medical practice that is sparking concern in the fertility-treatment community. IUI – that is, artificial insemination – is widely practiced, lightly regulated and mostly done covertly by a diverse range of doctors and nurses, often with little control over pregnancy results. ~ National Post (Canada), Aug 20ar

Steep cost for a baby
Jared Yee