Tracy’s Story

Our story is a little different than most involved in this process in that we are lucky enough to have 3 amazing sons from my previous marriage.

I was advised 5 years ago that due to medical reasons it was best if I had a hysterectomy. It was a very upsetting time full of confusion, disappointment and feelings of failure. I thought I would no longer be a real woman but held tight to the knowledge that I had my 3 beautiful boys and my life was full and my family complete, or so I thought.

I always wondered if I would meet another man that I would love and have a life and future with. I worried that if not being able to have children would be an issue and how could any man love me regardless. As such I decided not to look, that it would be best not to put myself through disappointment and heartache again, that I could be happy being on my own and I was luckier than some so be grateful for what I had.

So going along in my own little world one day I happen to run into a guy at my friends place. She introduced us for about 5 minutes and that was that. He could not stop texting our friend to organise a BBQ that night so he could see me, she did and we have been together ever since.

Tracy and her partner

Tracy and her partner

This man turned my world upside down, the love and affection in his big heart, the care and compassion he has for everyone is amazing. We talked about children and I had told him the first night about my situation, he had always wanted children and thought he could live without them as long as we were together. After seeing him with his nieces and god daughters my heart started to break as I told myself how could I do this to such a beautiful soul, how could I ask him to give up his dream of a child when I was so fortunate to have been though the experience of 3 beautiful babies. More than anything I wanted to share this beautiful experience with this man that loved me so much, this man that I had given my heart to and could never image living without. I wanted a baby with this man and I wanted to make our family complete.

One night at our friends she raised the issue of children, when I told her my situation she burst out saying well I’ll carry it. We were stunned, what and how could this be done. She continued to tell us that she had donated eggs to her cousin for IVF the year before and pulled out a book all about it. My partner and I said we would talk about and it was something we could look at later on. Our friend kept raising the possibility with each of us together and singly, we would casually discuss this at night whilst cuddle up and thought this could be a possibility as it would allow us to forfill our dream of completing our family.

I raised it with our older boys who light up with excitement and of course suggested a little sister would be a good idea. One afternoon on the train on my way home from work my partner called me, he is a long haul driver in the transport industry and calls me numerous times a day just to say hello and he misses me. He was away on a trip and called to see how my day was, I advised him that our friend had raised the issue about a baby the other day and he responded with ‘well what do you think’? Being a true female I said ‘well what do you think’? His reply floored me, he said ‘I think we should just go for it’ I asked if this meant he wanted me to start looking into the whole surrogacy think and he said ‘yes’. We were going to have a baby, or at least give it everything we had to make it happen. I was so excited and jubilant I almost squealed with joy but then remembered I was in the quite carriage and did a little wiggle instead.

Well I started to look into the whole surrogacy thing, the first thing I found was OMG there is not much out there that is useful and everything contradicts itself, the legislation and law is one thing but what and how this occurs is another. Then I stumbled across Hub Bub and that was it, I found so much information and so many wonderful people who really care and want to help. I am not alone, there are others out there and I found them.

I soon had a lot of info and started looking into clinics to try and get a price which is when I was advised that it is approx. $15,000-$18,000 and 100% out of pocket as Medicare does not rebate AT ALL. I then started looking into the legal side and costs and was advised that it is approx. $15,000-$18,000 and is NOT legally enforceable and that after all the stress, heartache and expense the GS could still say she is keeping the baby and there is nothing the law or us can do about it.

Well we are very lucky that our GC is a very close friend who has always and will always be in our lives and we will have no issue with the hand over. We do have issues with the costs of everything.

Due to my age 44 and turning 45 this year and the excessive costs of everything, this is it for us. We will only have one chance and that is more upsetting than anything. Medicare and this government have made it impossible for us (as is with many others I am sure) to go through this process again in the current situation.

General IVF Costs vs Surrogacy IVF Costs

Where ART is required to create embryos, provided a surrogate is not used, Medicare financially assists families by providing rebates. This is regardless as to whether the couples own sperm and eggs are used, they use donor sperm and eggs or a combination of both. Provided a surrogate is not used to carry the embryo Medicare will provide a rebate. These rebates are paid in accordance with the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and are not means tested.

Below is a table showing the average out of pocket expenses, couples can expect to pay when they do not use a surrogate:

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

Medicare does not provide a rebate for hospital related services, such as egg collection and embryo transfer. However Medicare may provide a rebate for the anaesthetist and those with private health may be eligible for a rebate from their fund. Out of pocket expenses for hospital related services range from $1,000 to $2,400 depending on whether the couple has private health cover.

With the assistance of Medicare, couples can expect to pay a total of $3500 to $5000 per full cycle.

There is no limit to how many cycles a couple may undertake during a year. In fact, the more cycles a couple does each year, the more Medicare will pay. When couples reach their annual threshold, the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) provides an additional rebate. Given it is usually necessary for a woman to have 3-5 IVF cycles before a successful pregnancy occurs , this can result in Medicare contributing $7,500 to $13,500.

Where a surrogate is used, Medicare does not provide any rebate for the IVF cycle. This is regardless of whether the couple use their own eggs and sperm to create the embryos or where donor eggs and sperm are used. Couples using a surrogate to carry their embryo can expect to pay between $16,000 – $18,000 for a single IVF cycle. In addition to these expenses couples using surrogates have legal costs, counselling costs and the usual pregnancy costs. Couples can expect to spend up to $60,000, provided their surrogate gets pregnant within the first or subsequent IVF cycle.

Why is it ok for the Government to help women with fertility issues but who can still carry their babies but not help women who cannot carry their own babies? There is no extra costs or extra procedures involved when a surrogate is used. The IVF procedure is exactly the same, except the embryo goes into another woman not the same woman.

For me personally I have never used IVF. I had no fertility issues. I had cancer, hysterectomy thats it. Can no longer carry my baby. I have just completed my first round of IVF. So far it has cost me almost $17,000. I only got 2 embryos. One embryo is currently, hopefully, growing in my surrogate. The other embryo is on ice. So I only got 2 shots. We cannot afford another $17,000. This is it for us.

If I had my own uterus. So far I would be out of pocket about $4000. The pressure would not be as great for one of these two embryos to become a baby, because we could have another go. We could afford another $4000. In fact 3 rounds of IVF with Medicare rebates would be less than what I have paid so far for 1 round.

Just seems so unfair to me. Why should I be treated differently to so many of my friends who have done IVF. Why should I not get a shot of having the family I always dreamed of?

These laws need to change. Equal access to Medicare Rebates to all those doing IVF!

Laurie’s Story

In every family there is “the sporty one”, “the funny one”, “the pretty one” and my has all of these but I am not one of them, in my family I was always known as “the sick one”. Born with a hole in my heart I developed complications as a young adult and as a result spent a significant amount of my life in hospitals, that was until I received a life saving heart-double lung transplant at the age of 24 in July 2002. Since then I haven’t looked back, I went back to uni, met and married the love of my life and work for a living.

This is Laurie with her husband

This is Laurie with her husband

There is however, one thing that is missing from our lives that my husband and I so dearly would love and that is a child. Although it may be physically possible for me to carry a child, i.e. I still have all the “bits”, the risks to my health and the health of the baby are extremely high, e.g. kidney failure, rejection of my organs, miscarriage, even death. So my husband and I have made the very hard decision that for me to carry a child is just too risky.

Now I am an extremely healthy woman, I have been for over ten years and plan on being for many, many more. And I believe that my husband and I deserve the right to have a family as much as any other couple. I am not a wealthy socialite who doesn’t want to destroy her figure or someone who is too busy to carry her own child. I was heartbroken when I was told by the doctors how risky it was for me to carry my own child as I wanted nothing more than to do just this.

So for my husband and I surrogacy is our only option. However Medicare and its outdated views on funding towards surrogacy is holding us back because we don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars sitting in the bank just waiting to pay an IVF doctor. We have a mortgage which we work hard to pay, I am not on a pension, we are just your average Aussie couple.

Why should a woman who has problems falling pregnant but can carry a baby get a Medicare rebate and only be out of pocket a few thousand dollars while I can’t carry a baby because it puts extreme risk on my health, surrogacy is legal, and yet I get no rebate. Without a rebate from Medicare IVF costs can be upwards of $15 000, and this is just IVF, this doesn’t include other costs involved with surrogacy. Medicare needs to change its views on funding towards surrogacy as it is discrimination plain and simple and it must be stopped!