A Limavady woman has spoken of the struggle she and her girlfriend faced when seeking fertility treatment, revealing they were left with no option but to go private.
Sarah Murphy (25) from Limavady and girlfriend Jenny Doherty (31) from Derry said they were forced to go a private clinic and are now expecting their first child in June.
“We went to a private clinic and chose not to do it ourselves, because we’re not in a same-sex marriage or in a civil partnership. It means Jenny will be listed as the baby’s second parent,” said Sarah.
“Had we done it ourselves, it would have been a lot harder. This way Jenny will be on the Birth Certificate as the baby’s legal parent and she is Jenny’s child as well as mine.”
Recalling the day she visited her GP to find out about getting treatment through the NHS, Sarah said she left the doctor’s office and sat in her car and cried.
“I said ‘me and my girlfriend are looking to have a baby,’ and it was obvious it was not a much talked about subject. I felt embarrassed and, to be honest, I didn’t want to try after that because of how I was made feel,” she said.
Some time later, when Sarah had been referred to Altnagelvin, she said she discovered she would not be able to ovulate naturally having been told she had Polycystic ovaries.
Sarah said they both left the hospital feeling deflated, and again that it wasn’t very helpful.
“If a straight couple had that problem they would be referred on,” said Sarah. “To be honest, we were kind of expecting that response.”
The couple, who have been together for more than four years, say the health service must make the experience of becoming a parent for same sex couples less distressing. Sarah said there must be more help and guidance for same sex couples seeking fertility treatment.
“For a start, there needs to be more education among GPs who can tell you where to go and what to do instead of leaving your GP with more questions than when you went in,” said Sarah.
“It could have been game over for me if not for Jenny.”
The couple have shared their story in the hope it will help others, and have a Facebook page called Flump has Two Mummies that chronicles their story. Sarah said since the Facebook Page was launched, they have been overwhelmed with the reaction and support.
“If we can help even one couple who, like me, have spent hours scanning the Internet trying to find success stories, then that’s all we want,” said Sarah.
A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said, in a statement to the ‘Journal’ said they do not comment on individual cases.
“If a patient or their relative has any issue in relation to their treatment we would encourage them to raise these issues through the Trust’s comments and complaints system - the Patients’ Advocate Office. The Patients’ Advocate Office can be contacted on (028) 7161 1226.
“All complaints received are investigated promptly and a response issued to the person making the complaint as soon as possible.”