THE PINEAPPLE PIN

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When my Mum, Lesley Brown, gave birth to me in 1978 more than 400 letters poured in from all over the world to the hospital where I was born and where I spent the first 12 days of my life while they figured out how to get home past the world’s media.

The vast majority of them were from other women with fertility issues. Some told their own stories of how they wanted to get pregnant; some asking Mum if she could pass on their names to Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe to see if they might be able to have IVF.

 Most of all they wanted to reach out to someone else who had been through fertility issues; ask her advice and tell her about their own experiences.

Thankfully today through the internet women can find like-minded people and get the help, support and friendship they need in a much easier way.

The Pineapple Pin is a fantastic idea by website IVF Babble (www.ivfbabble.com) and I am really proud to be supporting the initiative and wear the pin. It helps women realise they are not alone on their fertility journey.

I hope lots of women wear their pin with pride and if you see someone with a pineapple pin tell them you noticed and start that conversation – you never know how much you might be helping someone.

IVF IN HOLLAND

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The Autumn Symposium of Nij Barrahus  ( www.nijbarrahus.nl ) took me to Holland for the very first time to meet people working in the fertility industry there, including doctors who had worked with Robert Edwards.

There were some fantastic discussions and I also had time for a quick visit to the clinic. My first visit to Holland lasted longer than planned after a problem with flights home meant I spent an extra day in a hotel near Amsterdam Airport!

It caused a few panic stations back home over looking after my two children, but all worked out OK in the end.

SURROGACY UK

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Surrogacy has made it possible for so many people to have children and I was fascinated to hear about the work of Surrogacy UK, which is the leading not for profit charity for surrogacy in the UK.

I went to their Autumn Conference and met many couples who have successfully used surrogacy to achieve a family and some of the women who have carried babies for others. Anyone who wants to know more about this aspect of IVF can look here:  www.surrogacyuk.org.

Texas enthusiasm

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I met literally thousands of people who work in fertility clinics all over the world at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress and Expo is San Antonio, Texas.

Society President Richard Poulson was a great host and the two of us were surprised at the enthusiasm of the audience who rushed the stage after we did a little chat talking about my life.

I don’t know how many people took photos on their mobile phones and I lost count of the number of wonderful stories I heard about how people were inspired to take up a career in embryology as a result of my Mum’s story. It was a fantastic few days and I think my Mum would be amazed at how many people now have jobs in the field of IVF and assisted reproduction.

Barcelona, Dexeus women’s health centre

I have just returned from Barcelona, Spain where I was a guest of Dexeus women’s health, a private centre that is exclusively dedicated to women’s health.

There I was delighted to meet Victoria Anna Perea, who was the first IVF person born in Spain in 1984 after her mother had pioneering IVF treatment at the Dexeus centre.

It was great to meet her and we found we had a lot in common and our meeting caused great excitement in the Spanish media with television, radio and newspaper coverage.  I was delighted to be presented with a prize by Dexeus at their annual meeting.

It is an impressive clinic dedicated to all aspects of women’s health from childhood, through adolescence, adulthood, menopause and ageing and their staff are amazing. Since the clinic was set up in 1979 some 20,000 babies have been born in the hospital using reproductive techniques.

It is fantastic to see how IVF is making a real difference to women’s lives around the world and creating families.  

Victoria Anna Perea the first IVF person born in Spain

Victoria Anna Perea the first IVF person born in Spain