Move to resume IVF treatments sparks tears of joy from woman who begged government to change decision
A woman whose emotional plea for IVF procedures to resume amid the escalating Covid-19 outbreak has cried “happy tears” the Victorian government has allowed them to go ahead.
Melbourne woman Melanie Swieconek, 45, desperately pleaded with authorities to reverse a pause on IVF procedures in a powerful video that went viral, saying it would dash some people’s hopes of having a child.
Speaking through tears on Thursday, she said she was “over the moon” the government had decided to resume treatments.
“I’m truly, truly happy and these are obviously happy tears today,” she told Nine’s Today program.
“I may have roared first, but this IVF community roared louder; we roared because we felt like they were coming for our babies.
“We were like some lionesses and we roared and they heard us and I’m so, so, so thankful they heard us and they came to their senses.
“All I was asking was just to consider the situation and what is involved in IVF and I guess just to see it from another point of view, and they did that and I just could not be more grateful,” she said.
The government announced on Thursday IVF procedures will resume in Victoria, following a campaign by advocates including Ms Swieconek, to reverse its decision.
Some services will restart from Thursday, with hospitals scaling up their operations to enable procedures to resume from 11.59pm on Tuesday, January 25.
The Victorian government had placed a ban on the procedures due to the escalating Covid outbreak in the state.
But the pause was lifted after the chief health officer’s advice that the restrictions on IVF procedures could be removed.
Professor Brett Sutton advised the specialist nature of the workforce and the facilities and equipment used were not imperative to support the pandemic response at this time.
“IVF is a challenging journey for anyone to go through, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic, and we’re deeply sorry for the distress caused by affected services in recent weeks,” Acting Health Minister James Merlino said on Thursday.
“We thank Victorians for their patience as we’ve worked through critical workforce issues, and we’ll keep working to have other services restored as soon as we can.”
Hours after announcing a ban on all non-urgent elective surgery on January 6, Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters IVF clinics were being contacted by authorities and asked to cancel their client appointments to free up more health resources.
In the days since, multiple providers warned the protocols – which came into effect on January 12 and were set to last until April 12 – would disrupt some couples’ procedures.
Ms Swieconek had begged the state’s leaders to bring back the service, claiming the 90-day ban would dash some people’s hopes of having a baby.
“You can’t have any idea what this will do to some women,” she said in a video posted online.
“To put a blanket ban on IVF for three months … we think Covid is a pandemic, infertility is a pandemic, and now we’re dealing with both.”
She revealed she was 45 and would be ineligible for treatment when she turns 46 in October.
“So to have three months just stolen from me, and that’s how I feel it is, is – I still don’t have any words,” she said.
However, on Thursday she said she was overjoyed she could now begin her IVF journey this month “and that means the world to me”.
“And it’s not just me, it’s obviously everyone that was part of this,” she told the Today show.
“We can all get back on track and start our cycles. We can all just continue with our life and our preparation.”
While IVF restrictions were in place, services were still available to those who needed to complete a treatment cycle they had started prior to January 6, or those who required future IVF procedure due to health treatment that would render their eggs non-viable.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday acknowledged it was a “deeply distressing and very difficult” time for those unable to access the procedure during the pandemic.
“I’m sorry these services have been impacted by the global pandemic, I’m sorry so many services across the board have been impacted – I’ve heard so many stories from so many people and I know and understand just how challenging this journey is,” he said.
“I want to assure everyone who is impacted by this that we’re working as hard as we can to get day procedures back up and running.”
The government said on Thursday the health department will work with the Royal Women’s Hospital to prioritise urgent patients, ensuring the changes do not affect the Covid response in that hospital.
It is also seeking more advice from the Health Response Centre about other services that may be restored without critically impacting on current hospital workforce capacity.
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