31 Mar 2020

Covid-19: Fertility clinics shut during lockdown period

10:50 am on 31 March 2020

Thousands of fertility treatments have been cancelled or postponed because the services are not considered essential.

The Health and Disability Commissioner said the senior sonographer should have ensured the scan was correctly interpreted, or conveyed doubt.

(File image). Photo: 123RF

Fertility clinics shut up shop last week for all but the most critical of cases - usually cancer-related.

An Auckland IVF patient wants the services to be reclassified as essential.

She had been due to have the final step in her IVF this week - an embryo transfer she hoped would lead to pregnancy.

"I was completely hit for six. I was so devastated. I felt like I had been building up for this for so long," she said

She and her partner had been having treatment for five years.

"I was so hopeful this time... this would be it. I cried and cried," she said.

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For most patients, the delay would be longer than the lockdown itself, with treatment cycles needing time to get up and running again.

The 39 year old said it was harsh to deem the treatment non-essential.

Some people could miss their chance to have a family - and that made the situation serious, she said.

"It's not like going for botox or having a boob job ... it's a medical reason. None of us want to be going to a fertility clinic. We're only going because we can't do what everyone else does naturally," she said.

The president of advocacy group Fertility New Zealand, Juanita Copeland, said the situation was very stressful for patients.

Some people may also face an additional struggle to pay for private treatment after the lockdown if their job or business had taken a hit, she said.

Auckland clinic Repromed's medical director Guy Gudex said he felt for devastated patients but supported the decision for the services to be non-essential.

"The risk of this pandemic is greater that the need to carry on over the next four to eight weeks with fertility treatment, not withstanding the impact it has," he said.

For most people, a delay of a few months was unlikely to have a big impact on their chances, Dr Gudex said.

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