Bourn Hall legacy continues for Essex couple as they celebrate becoming grandparents

One of Bourn Hall’s first frozen embryo babies has himself become a father, much to the delight of his parents Siobhan and Keith, who were told over 30 years ago they would never be parents.

“Tom has become a first-time father at exactly the same age that I did but without the struggles that we had,” says Keith. “My relief and delight is immense in equal measure.”

Tom’s parents Siobhan and Keith’s IVF treatment over 30 years ago only succeeded because of a pioneering treatment that Bourn Hall had recently introduced. The couple were among the first to benefit from embryo freezing which allowed them to delay transfer and give Siobhan’s body time to recover from the medication.

Proud grandparents Siobhan and Keith with their granddaughter
Proud grandparents Siobhan and Keith with their granddaughter

The couple’s second son, Sam, was also conceived with a new procedure. The couple had thought they would only have one baby but then Bourn Hall contacted them about a new procedure Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), where the sperm is injected directly into the egg and they gave it a try.

“We have just been so blessed with our two healthy boys,” says Siobhan. “Now they are grown up and different in so many ways but are equally brilliant young men and we are so proud of them. To be able to sit here now more than 30 years after being told we would never be parents and cuddle our granddaughter is just the best feeling in the world.”

The story started in the early 90’s when fertility testing wasn’t available on the NHS so Siobhan and Keith used their medical insurance. “We went to see a specialist who told us quite bluntly that we would never be parents,” recalls Siobhan. “We were really shocked. There was a real taboo around infertility generally and people just didn’t discuss it with anyone. We were devastated but determined to prove him wrong!”

The couple from Essex were put in touch with a number of specialists including a urologist with a particular interest in infertility and he suggested they seek treatment at Bourn Halll in Cambridge which had been set up a few years before as the world’s first IVF clinic.

Tom and Autumn
Tom and Autumn

“When we drove up the M11 and arrived at Bourn Hall we felt relaxed and at home and had complete faith in everyone there,” says Siobhan. “All the staff were just so lovely and reassuring.”

The couple were initially treated using a procedure called Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) but when Siobhan didn’t fall pregnant she was then treated using standard IVF which also didn’t work.

Siobhan and Keith with Tom and Sam outside Bourn Hall
Siobhan and Keith with Tom and Sam outside Bourn Hall

“One of the problems during my first two treatments was that I didn’t produce many eggs so for the third attempt I was given drugs which further boosted my egg production,” she says. The good news was that I then produced 21 eggs but the bad news was that my body was too stimulated for embryo transfer to take place.”

Fortunately, Bourn Hall was one of the first to freeze embryos which meant that Siobhan’s body could recover before embryo transfer and nine months later she went back to Bourn Hall for a frozen embryo transfer (FET) which was successful.

Siobhan gave birth to Tom on 25 July, the same day that Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby had been born 13 years before. Tom made a little bit of Bourn Hall history himself as he was the 200th frozen embryo baby to be born.

“I couldn’t believe that I was finally a mum,” says Siobhan.

This year Tom celebrated his 30th birthday – and two months later his wife Heather gave birth to their daughter Autumn after the couple conceived naturally.

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