We thought zero sperm would mean zero babies – now we have two!

When Wayne met Melissa the subject of children came up quite quickly. He had always wanted to be a dad, and as he was 25 and Melissa was 27, with two girls already from a previous relationship, the couple saw no reason why they would have a problem… so a diagnosis of azoospermia came as a shock.

They tried for two years before seeking help from their GP. Melissa had some blood tests to check she was ovulating. Her periods had started to get lighter but the AMH test, which provides an indication of egg reserve, was normal for her age.

Melissa suggested that Wayne also got tested. Wayne readily admits that he doesn’t like being “prodded and poked around” and didn’t want to be seen by a GP or have sperm tests through them.

“We knew that if we needed IVF we wouldn’t get any NHS funding because I already had children,” explains Melissa. “So we self-referred ourselves to Bourn Hall for Wayne’s testing.”

Azoospermia diagnosis was gutting

Bourn Hall Norwich is tucked away on the Gateway 11 Business Park in Wymondham, so it is very discreet.

When tests at Bourn Hall revealed azoospermia – no sperm in the ejaculate – Wayne was very shocked.

“I thought it must be some sort of mistake,” he says. “I had never had mumps and there was nothing hereditary in my family. I was pretty gutted to be honest. I thought it was the end of the road.

“As a bloke it feels like your world is over if you can’t produce children.”

Sperm hunting

The couple were then introduced to Consultant Urologist Mr Oliver Wiseman. Mr Wiseman is one of only a small number of urologists in the country to specialise in male fertility and one of the first to practice MicroTESE (micro-surgical testicular sperm extraction), where immature sperm is found in small tubules in the testes using a powerful microscope. The sperm is collected and frozen, ready for IVF treatment.

Oliver Wiseman, specialist on male infertility
Oliver Wiseman, specialist on male fertility

At Bourn Hall the embryology lab is very close to the operating theatre and the team is well experienced in ‘sperm hunting’ for those with azoospermia. Mr Wiseman says: “Working closely with the embryologists, we can find sperm in around 50 per cent of those patients for whom the operation is appropriate.”

Wayne admits that he was initially resistant to the idea of surgery. “I didn’t want to have the operation,” he says. “I owe a lot to Mr Wiseman – he made me feel at ease. I knew he would try his hardest to help us find sperm, and he knew I wasn’t keen on being seen and understood how I was feeling.”

Thankfully, Mr Wiseman successfully found sperm and six vials were frozen.

“The sperm was immotile,” says Melissa. “We were told that IVF can still be successful, but our chances were lower.”

But dramatic fall in AMH

The couple faced a further hurdle when, prior to starting their IVF cycle, it was revealed that Melissa’s AMH levels had gone down dramatically. “I now had a low ovarian reserve,” she says. “We were now dealing with two factors. I just burst in to tears; I felt as though we had hit a brick wall.

“We felt battered and bruised emotionally. I just felt like everything was stacked against us and I felt like ‘what is the point?’ or ‘are we fighting a losing battle here?’

CS254 body 2
Bella and Noah

“But we had saved hard and decided to continue. I think we almost found it easier to prepare ourselves for the worst.”

At egg collection Melissa had six eggs retrieved which were then injected with Wayne’s defrosted sperm using a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). “We took the phone call to tell us that two had fertilised and my jaw just dropped because I had honestly felt that we were going to get zero fertilised,” says Melissa. “It was a stand-out moment for me, it was amazing.

“We decided to have both put in; because of everything that had got in our way we were just hoping that one of them took. Wayne joined me for the embryo transfer, watching it on the screen. We were absolutely ecstatic – it felt so surreal.”

Convinced it hadn’t worked

Three days after the transfer Melissa feared that the IVF hadn’t worked.

“I was in Costa Coffee and suddenly felt really light-headed; I thought I was going to faint. I have never felt that before,” she says. “I needed to hold on to something – it was really weird. I had every symptom of my period coming that I would normally have, so I convinced myself it hadn’t worked and was crying.”

Melissa remembers the day of taking the pregnancy test. “I thought ‘right, let’s do this – let’s watch it go negative…’ Both my daughters have been so much part of the process – they even helped to do my injections with me. When I saw a second line on the test I shouted for my oldest daughter. I said ‘can you see what I can see?’ And she said ‘Oh my God, mum, I can see it’ and I think I started crying. She told me to sit down and calm down and made me a squash.

“Me and the girls told Wayne together; we waited until he got home from work. We bought a little babygrow and put it in a box and we videoed Wayne opening it, so it was lovely. He cried, and I think for him after his diagnosis of azoospermia to finally find out that he was going to be a dad was just amazing.”

The couple then had a second surprise…

“Everyone – his nan, his mum, my mum, my daughters – all said it would be twins,” says Melissa.

“We went to the seven-week scan at Bourn Hall and the nurse said ‘here’s baby number one and here’s baby number two’ and we went ‘whoa!’

Wayne overcame azoospermia to have twins
Wayne with Bella and Noah

“Wayne came out of the clinic and was straight on the phone to his mum and dad. I think he felt so proud.”

Noah and Bella were born on 16 November 2022. “We feel so blessed,” says Melissa.

“The journey has been so tough but was very much worth it,” says Wayne. “I didn’t think we stood a chance and I even told Melissa that there was no point, as it wouldn’t work. However, we made it. I’m so lucky to have two amazing little babies.”

To read more about male fertility.


I found myself single, in my thirties – and my eggs were running out

My eggs were running out

“I parted from my ex-husband in 2011. We had been together a long time, since our teens, and had never tried to have children, it had just never been on the agenda for us. I am very career orientated and had buried myself in my work. But then I suddenly found myself heading towards 30 and single and my body clock was ticking….

“I booked myself an appointment at Bourn Hall Norwich for an AMH test, basically to get an idea of what my egg count was. That was five years ago and my ovarian reserve was actually quite low so I knew that time wasn’t on my side fertility-wise.

“I started having a discussion with Bourn Hall about having solo IVF treatment using donor sperm. I had a good conversation with the consultant and we spoke about what donor treatment would look like, the IVF and egg collection and how you select the sperm donor and all the legalities around that.

“I was seriously considering it….then I met James!

I told him I wanted to be a mum on our first date!

“James is nine years older than me and already had grown-up children – his daughter Alex, who I knew through work, had played matchmaker and introduced us. I thought that me being so upfront about wanting children might put him off, especially as he had had a vasectomy, but he was receptive.

I told him I wanted to be a mum on our first date!  

“It is a running joke that on our first date I said to him ‘I want to be a mum’ and my friends said ‘you can’t say that on a first date!’ I said ‘well actually I can because I know what I want’.

“So after I told him I said to him ‘I will leave that with you then….on the basis of whether you want to see me again’.  Thankfully he did want to see me again and eight months after we got together he had a vasectomy reversal!

“The vasectomy reversal at a private hospital in Norwich was initially a success and we were told to start trying naturally for a baby. Nothing was happening and a couple of subsequent semen tests revealed that there was no sperm.

“The consultant at the hospital said that the tubes had probably blocked up again, perhaps with scar tissue, and that he could attempt the reversal again but suggested that we might be better off going to Bourn Hall to see what our options were.

Sperm retrieval was a success

“I found myself back at Bourn Hall Norwich, but with a partner this time, and the recommendation was for James to have a sperm retrieval operation at Bourn Hall’s Cambridge clinic. We now wish, with the benefit of hindsight, that we had gone straight to surgical sperm retrieval rather than attempting the vasectomy reversal, both from a cost point of view and also because the experience was initially quite traumatic for James.

“James’ surgical sperm retrieval operation was in December 2020 and was successful. They managed to get five vials of sperm, which were then frozen, so that was kind of James done with really and then they started with me in the January 2021.

“We had had to pay for our IVF, James was already a Dad  so we were not entitled to NHS treatment.

“I am not going to lie, IVF is probably the hardest thing I have ever been through. Injecting the drugs was quite hard, as was how the drugs made me feel. It was an emotional rollercoaster of wanting a baby so much and a massive drain on our relationship.

“Our first round of IVF failed, I had quite a nasty bleed which felt different to a period, more like a miscarriage, and when I did the ten-day pregnancy test it was negative. I was really upset and quite despondent actually. I also felt anxious because I knew that time was probably not on our side and there was the financial pressure too.

We kept our treatment under wraps 

“I was desperate to have another go and just get started again. We did have another round pretty quickly but this time we went to the Cambridge clinic so that I could have my egg collection under a general anaesthetic. Second time around I had seven eggs retrieved, four of which fertilised and two were put in.

“Our embryo transfer took place on 12 May 2021 and then we had that horrible wait, which feels like a lifetime, until our test date. I felt like I was going crazy.

“Our test day was a Saturday morning and I’d got up quite early and done the test as you do because I couldn’t sleep. We did the test together and it was positive. James was in a state of shock and so I did another one and that was positive too. James then jumped in the car and went to the local supermarket and came back with a stash of more pregnancy tests and they were all positive too so then we jumped in the car at 7am to go over to my parents to tell them!

“That was great, but then of course we had the nine-week wait to see if it was a viable pregnancy – that was torture. During that time I had James’ eldest daughter’s hen do and wedding; I knew that I was pregnant for both but we had kept our treatment under wraps and I had to do the whole ‘pretend I was drinking’ thing. A lot of people said afterwards ‘I don’t know how you kept it quiet because you quite like a glass of wine!’

“We had a nine-week scan at Bourn Hall and our nurse Gemma got the screen up and then quickly turned it round to us and said ‘yep you are pregnant and there is one’ because we didn’t know if there was going to be one or two because two embryos had gone in.

“Hearing the strong heartbeat at the scan was just the most amazing feeling ever because it was like ‘I really am pregnant’.

The team at Bourn Hall have given me everything I ever wanted

The team at Bourn Hall have given me everything I ever wanted 

“We told James’ children and his dad and obviously my mum and dad but we didn’t actually ‘announce’ anything until after my 20 week scan.

“I loved being pregnant, in fact I really miss being pregnant!

“When Hattie arrived we both just sobbed. We felt overwhelming love and contentment, it was an experience that I can’t really describe.

“By the time I had Hattie most of my friends already had children, my best friend’s eldest is nearly 18 and in fact I was a nanna to James’s son’s little girl before I was a mum…

“Hattie is phenomenal, we are just so lucky, she is always smiling and is a little redhead. James’ late mum was redheaded so I think she has got nanny in her…

“We have got a lovely blended family. James’ son’s daughter is now two and a half and they have just had a baby boy. James’ daughter Alex, who set me and James up, recently had a little boy so Hattie will grow up with them and they will all be like little cousins. I have got a great relationship with James elder children and they absolutely love Hattie.

“We had a good experience at Bourn Hall and I popped in to the Norwich clinic recently with Hattie and some cupcakes for the team. I can’t thank them enough, they have given me everything I have always wanted.”


Long-term struggle overcome with donated sperm

Donating sperm really does change lives; there are few other things that you could do for someone else that would have such a positive impact.

One couple that will always be grateful to an anonymous donor are Ria and Lee from Suffolk, it took them ten years and two miscarriages to finally achieve their ‘happy bubbly baby.’

donated sperm

The couple married in 2001 and Ria then 21 came off the pill to start a family.

Ria (now 34) begins: “However time ticked on – I returned to university, our careers developed – and on turning 30, I realised we needed to do something.”

Investigations revealed a low sperm count

The couple went to their GP who referred them for tests at the local hospital.  When investigations revealed that Lee had a low sperm count, it was suggested that they had IVF treatment and from the list of fertility centres offered they picked Bourn Hall Clinic.

Ria says: “We chose the Cambridge clinic as set in a wonderful open space, the home to the first IVF baby – Louise Brown – and because I didn’t like the idea of being probed in a London clinic and then having to sit on a train home to Suffolk.”

Surgical sperm retrieval recommended

After the initial consultation in September 2012 it was suggested that an attempt was made to retrieve sperm directly from the testicles using a minor surgical procedure called surgical sperm retrieval (SSR).

Although the couple were told that there was a slim chance of it being successful they thought it was worth the chance.

Ria says: “We went in with our eyes wide open and we had wanted to try to see if we could have a baby that was genetically ours before considering other options. It was very disappointing when they couldn’t find any sperm.”

Using a sperm donor

The next option was to use donated sperm. Bourn Hall was the first clinic to freeze sperm and also the first to start a sperm bank.

Each donor prepares a short anonymous pen picture of himself and this is given to the couple, along with details of the donor’s build and colouring to help them to select a good match.

Several vials of sperm from the same donor are reserved for the couple so they can have a number of IVF cycles and also to use the sperm for siblings if required.

April was a tough month

In February 2013 Ria began a course of injections to increase her ovulation in preparation for the couple’s first NHS-funded IVF treatment.

“April was a tough month,” recalls Ria. “My Mum suddenly died two days before I was due to have my egg collection and then after becoming pregnant I later miscarried.”

Having decided they wanted to try again, the couple returned in mid-October for a second cycle of IVF treatment, again using the frozen donor sperm.

Although an initial home test revealed Ria was pregnant, unfortunately her seven-week scan showed heartbreakingly there was no baby.

The couple decided to wait until after Christmas to try one last time.

Baby Jacob arrives

donated sperm

For their third and final NHS-funded cycle it was decided to change Ria’s drug regime and also to continue with medication through the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy to improve the blood flow to the womb.

“When I was told at the first scan that I had a ‘healthy pregnancy’, it was such a relief that I cried but I was also concerned in case I lost the baby again. I felt like I was on a knife’s edge during those first few scans,” says Ria.

“The Bourn Hall staff were very supportive and easy to talk to and when I saw our little baby’s heart beating at the 12 week scan it was such a good feeling!”

The rest of Ria’s pregnancy went smoothly and on 11th December 2014 baby Jacob was born.

Ria reflects: “It took us a lot longer to get where we are, with our happy bubbly baby, but once referred to Bourn Hall Clinic the process was surprisingly quick.

“We now couldn’t imagine life without Jacob.  Lee phones me every day from work to check how his son is doing – it was well worth going through all the ‘hoops’ to get him.”

For more information about male infertility treatments.

Ref CS092

NHS funding gave Kelly and Andy a baby miracle

With baby Grace playing in the background Kelly (43) recalls how her own and her husband’s, Andy (46), fertility problems were not going to stop them from becoming a family.

“In 1990, we met at a carnival in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and were married a year later. We started trying for a family soon after. To begin with we weren’t too worried about time but as the years passed we began to panic. Our initial hope of me easily becoming pregnant was soon seen as a dream and so we went to a clinic in Ipswich for investigation.

“We had endless tests and investigations and I was given the fertility drug Clomid to help improve my chances of conceiving but it didn’t work.”

ICSI treatment recommended

The tests revealed that as well as Kelly having (PCOS), a condition that affects the way the ovaries work, Andy had a medical condition which affected his ability to produce a sperm sample, and this would require surgical sperm retrieval.

“Eventually we were told in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) was our only option if we wanted a baby.”

ICSI involves carefully injecting a single sperm directly into an egg in order to fertilise it. The fertilised embryo is then transferred to the woman’s womb.

Entitled to one cycle of IVF on NHS

In 2007, and living in Suffolk, the couple were entitled to one cycle of IVF on the NHS.

Following successful surgical sperm retrieval Andy’s sperm was frozen and put into storage until needed.

In January 2008, Kelly had her eggs collected. A total of seven were collected and four eggs were suitable for ICSI.

Kelly continues: “Devastatingly none of eggs fertilised. As it was our only NHS funded IVF cycle we thought our chance had passed; never again would we be able to try for a child as we simply couldn’t afford the treatment ourselves.

A gift from Andy’s parents

“Andy’s parents amazingly surprised us and generously offered to help fund our second IVF cycle. We were so grateful and with renewed hope we returned to Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge but this time as private patients.”

The couple started their second cycle of IVF in September 2008, but unfortunately it was not to be and the pregnancy test was negative.

“Again our hopes were dashed and we started to wonder if it would just be the pair of us forever. Then my Dad heard that the NHS funding criteria was changing and that we might be eligible for further fertility treatment.

“I was worried we might not meet the requirements as we’d already had one NHS funded treatment as well as a privately funded one but that didn’t stop us from trying.

Dad’s determination pays off

“My Dad was fantastic; making initial phone calls of enquiry and then helping with the follow up paperwork and letter writing. Ultimately due to his hard work we were entitled to two more NHS funded cycles of IVF. This news was a big weight off our shoulders and gave us the chance of becoming parents.”

The couple started their next cycle of treatment in April 2010.

“Tragically another negative pregnancy test: we were heart-broken yet again but luckily we did have one more fresh cycle available to us. This was to be our final attempt so we were incredibly nervous.”

The final attempt

In late September 2010, three eggs were collected from Kelly and using frozen sperm retrieved from Andy, two embryos developed. At blastocyst stage, they were then carefully transferred into Kelly’s womb.

“I was due to take the pregnancy test on my Mum’s birthday, the 16th October, but I was too nervous, so I naughtily took it two days early. I didn’t want to spoil my Mum’s birthday if it was another negative, but, amazingly we got our first ever positive pregnancy test! It was the best news ever; I screamed with excitement yet knew we still had a long way to go until we held him or her in our arms.”

At the 20 week scan the couple discovered that they were having a girl.

“We knew this was going to be our one and only child so we wanted to be able to buy the appropriate colour clothes and nursery stuff, which is why we chose to find out the sex.”

The couple welcomes Grace

On 22nd June 2011 baby Grace was born weighing 8 lb 3 oz.

“We thought long and hard about what we would call our miracle. We named her ‘Grace’ after the fertility goddess and for gracing us with her presence and ‘Hope’ because we never gave up!

“She completes the world for us and is everything we ever wanted. It showed us that miracles can happen.

“We know we were lucky to get further NHS funding. It made all the difference to us being able to have a family and we are eternally grateful to everyone at Bourn Hall who helped make our dreams come true.”

Ref CS065

New procedure overcomes infertility caused by cystic fibrosis

“It’s a Celfie”, says Rachel showing a picture of her baby’s first picture. For her and her husband Tom, their lives would be very different now had it not been for the NHS funded IVF treatment they received at Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester.

Rachel starts: “We wanted to try for a baby as soon as we got married, which was in 2010. After 18 months of trying nothing had happened so I thought we should go to our GP and get the ball rolling.”

Cystic fibrosis causes male infertility 

The couple had to have blood tests and Tom provided a sample for a semen analysis. This revealed that he had a sperm count of zero. Further tests at the Broomfield Hospital and the UCLH showed that Tom was a carrier of cystic fibrosis and didn’t have any vas deferens.

Around one in 25 white Europeans in the UK is a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene. Carriers of the gene can have problems with their fertility. Some men are born without vas deferens – the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis. Without these tubes, sperm cannot mix with the seminal fluid and so there is no sperm present in the ejaculate.

Rachel continues “knowing the cause of our infertility was a like a big relief. It was good to know what was stopping us from conceiving, that there was something that could be done for us and we could put a plan of action in place.”

Testicular sperm aspiration brings hope

After further testing Rachel and Tom were sent back to their GP. They were referred for NHS funded IVF treatment which they chose to have at the Bourn Hall Clinic in Colchester.

“I was apprehensive before our first visit to Bourn Hall Clinic, but as soon as we were there, I was put at ease” adds Tom.

Rachel continues: “In March 2013 we started treatment at Bourn Hall. We met with our consultant urologist at the Colchester clinic. They decided Tom would need a treatment called TESA to find sperm.”

Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) occurs when a fine needle is inserted into the testis and samples of tissue containing sperm are obtained through gentle suction. For Tom, the procedure was a success and produced two vials of high quality sperm which were frozen for use in future IVF treatment cycles.

Later that month Rachel began her treatment at Bourn Hall. She had blood tests and ultrasounds, and was shown how to inject herself with the fertility drugs.

Rachel returned to the clinic in May 2013 for her egg collection and produced 16 eggs, nine of which were successfully fertilised using Tom’s sperm. Five of the embryos developed to 5-day Blastocysts. Four embryos were frozen for use in future cycles and one was transferred to Rachel’s womb.

cystic fibrosis

“It was such a surprise!”

From then Rachel and Tom had a nervous two week wait before they could take a pregnancy test to find out if their treatment had been a success.

“I couldn’t bear to wait the two weeks before taking the test. I did it a bit earlier” reveals Rachel.

“We went through treatment thinking the first cycle would just be a trial go and to treat it like a learning experience. I had convinced myself it wouldn’t work so when I looked at the test and saw it was positive I couldn’t believe it! It was such a surprise!”

Looking back on their treatment, Rachel feels that for them being open helped a lot.

“Both of us were honest with our friends and family from the beginning. I think we felt much more comfortable with everyone knowing. It meant we had a whole support group to confide in and help us through it.”

Delighted that they had been successful on their first round of IVF treatment, Rachel and Tom looked forward to the arrival of baby. Amalie was born on the 27th March 2014.

cystic fibrosis

Beating the odds

Tom says “the staff were always honest with us about our chances of success. I’m just so pleased we beat the odds!”

“You can’t prepare for it” says Rachel on what it feels like to be a mum. “One day you just come home with another person! It hasn’t been chaotic yet; just everything takes so much longer than you think!

“We are both so grateful to have been able to have our treatment on the NHS: it meant everything to us. Without it we wouldn’t of had a chance and we’d never of had Amalie. We are so thankful to them and Bourn Hall for their help in giving us the family we’d always wanted.”

More information 

Fertility testing provides information about sperm quality.

Bourn Hall has consultants with specialist knowledge of male infertility. 

To find out more come to one of our Fertility Awareness events. 

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has advice about the condition

Ref: CS056

Cancer survivor now father thanks to TESE procedure

When Kevin from Cambridgeshire hugs his two young children, he feels as though he has a multitude of reasons to count his blessings.

A childhood cancer survivor, Kevin was told as a teenager that he would never be able to father children of his own but thanks to pioneering treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic he has gone on to become a dad – not once but twice. He also recently conquered cancer for a second time and is looking to the future with a renewed sense of optimism.

“Being a Dad is something I thought would never happen and now I have two beautiful children,” says Kevin, aged 40, as he plays with two-year-old Arthur and cradles latest arrival, nine-month-old Evelyn. “I have also just been given the all-clear from cancer, having had a second shock diagnosis last year, so I feel ‘extra double’ lucky!”

Childhood cancer

Kevin was four when he was diagnosed with non Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system. He battled the disease for two years and had chemotherapy, which can cause a man to become infertile.

Kevin had always accepted that he wouldn’t be able to father a child until he met his future wife Natalie, a midwife.  She remembers:  “I had to think hard about whether we had a future together if we couldn’t have a family.  Being a midwife, surrounded by pregnant women and babies, it could become difficult to cope with.  I loved Kevin and wanted to be with him, so we chose to cross any difficult bridges when we came to them.”

TESE procedure enabled IVF

When a sperm analysis showed a zero sperm count, Kevin and wife Natalie were referred to Bourn Hall Clinic in 2011. They saw the clinic’s male fertility specialist Dr Oliver Wiseman who encouraged them to try a procedure called TESE  – which would involve retrieving viable sperm from tissue extracted from Kevin’s testes. The couple agreed and the procedure was successful, enabling Natalie to undergo IVF treatment using Kevin’s sperm. Arthur was born in 2013 and a further embryo was frozen.

For the couple baby Arthur was a miracle and although they held little hope that this would be repeated, they both felt they needed to try again with the single frozen embryo.

Natalie says: “Despite the chances of success being slimmer with literally just one frozen embryo for treatment, we decided to go ahead. I didn’t build my hopes up too much but Kevin and my mum were absolutely convinced it was going to work.

“My treatment second time around was much less stressful as I didn’t have to have the hormone injections to stimulate my egg production. Three days after treatment we moved house and so I managed to keep my mind busy on other things and tried not to think about the pregnancy test. I was amazed when it came back positive. In fact I re-took the test ten more times just to double-check! We were absolutely over the moon!”


Another battle with cancer

Unfortunately their elation was to be short-lived. Kevin became unwell. Initially thinking he had food poisoning he got more and more ill over a six-week period until he couldn’t keep any food or drink down and lost two stone in the process.

After being admitted to hospital and undergoing tests Kevin was stunned to be given the news that 35 years after his first diagnosis he once again had cancer.

“I was absolutely shocked and devastated that this had happened right in the middle of something which should have been so amazing,” he says.  “My primary concern was for Natalie, our unborn child and Arthur. I kept asking myself whether I was going to see my children grow up”.

Kevin underwent a 10-hour operation to remove parts of his pancreas, bowel and stomach, which was then followed by six months of chemotherapy. Throughout this period, Natalie had to remain strong for everyone.

“When Kevin came home after his operation, Arthur and I were so pleased to see him and it felt as though things might get back to normal,” says Natalie. “Then one Friday I went off into Ely to have a beauty treatment, got back that evening and settled down on the sofa with Kevin to watch England play in the Rugby World Cup. We were half-way through the National Anthem when my waters broke, I was only 28 weeks pregnant!”

Premature labour

A neighbour was drafted in to look after Arthur whilst Natalie and Kevin rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where Natalie works. She then proceeded to go in to premature labour.

The couple are convinced that the stress of the previous few months played a part in the turn of events and so having thought they would be having a Christmas baby welcomed daughter Evelyn in to the world much earlier than planned on 29 September 2015.

“Working at Addenbrooke’s I knew that I was in the best possible place to have a premature baby,” says Natalie. “I didn’t doubt for one minute that she would be okay but I was frightened at how tiny she was. She came out with a full head of hair and screamed and screamed, she made far more noise than Arthur ever made! We fell in love with her straight away.”


Natalie was sent home after a few days but Evelyn stayed in Addenbrooke’s until the middle of November and so Natalie spent vast amounts of her time at the hospital either with Kevin whilst he underwent chemotherapy or visiting Evelyn.

Although Evelyn was allowed home for Christmas, with Kevin’s cancer still hanging over them, it was a muted affair. “Arthur had presents but he was the only one who did and we just about managed to get a Christmas tree up,” says Natalie. “We just wanted to get to the end of the year and see the back of it.”

Looking to the future with optimism

2016 was shaping up to be a good year with Kevin being given the all clear from his cancer in March.

“I am now just looking forward to what lies ahead, seeing the children grow up and watching how they turn out and hopefully having a healthy, happy future for myself,” he says. “I am just so grateful that I am still here and that I have got a complete family with two beautiful children who I once thought I would never have. I am just so lucky to have them both and to have my health back.”

Natalie is also looking to the future with optimism:

“I am going back to work and trying to get back to normal,” she says. “We are trying to put everything behind us and move forward and enjoy our children that we have thanks to Bourn Hall.

“We are so grateful to Oliver Wiseman at Bourn Hall for his efforts at the very beginning andlooking at whether Kevin would be able to father his own children. We are a complete family now and I would say to anyone that even if the odds are stacked against you, if you want something, keep going forward and fight for it and hopefully you will achieve your dreams.”