IVF meds refund: ‘a fair opportunity’

IVF is expensive. We spoke to someone who experienced this first-hand. 

 

Government will be refunding medicines used for in-vitro fertilisation treatment bought this year. TheJournal.mt met with Kim* who spoke to us about her experience after undergoing two full cycles of treatment.

Kim tried to conceive for a year prior to starting the IVF process, even though she was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition which, she was told, made it impossible for her to conceive. 

Her first IVF treatment was done in Cyprus, and the whole process, including medications, procedures, flights and accommodation, cost Kim circa €10k. 

The second cycle took place in Malta, and although the process was free and a huge financial relief, the cost of the medicine still reached €3,000. 

Kim tells us that IVF treatment is a very difficult process. “The medication given is no joke, with all the scans and tests that need to be done. The disappointment and heartache at times make it really challenging for the couple going through this experience. I had support from my family and friends but still, you need to be strong to go through this process. It leaves a huge impact on your physical, emotional and mental health.”

Kim adds that undergoing IVF treatment in Malta made a great difference to her as she was surrounded by family, and was still able to go to work and continue with day-to-day life at home, unlike her first cycle which was done overseas. 

“It leaves a huge impact on your physical, emotional and mental health.”

When asked about the government’s announcement that IVF medicines bought this year will be refunded, Kim said she was delighted at the news:

“It is definitely going to help a lot of families with the expenses that this treatment involves. It can give a fair opportunity even to those who cannot afford it. It certainly makes the process easier. I wholeheartedly thank the government for introducing this measure and for listening to minority groups in our country.” 

Kim, however, believes that the law in Malta needs to improve and be at par with other EU member states, as people should have the right to choose how many eggs to fertilize and how many embryos to freeze. 

She says that those who do not agree with this, can freely opt out and make their choices according to their beliefs, without limiting the available options to others with different backgrounds and medical history. 

She tells us that further investment in the Assisted Reproductive Technology clinic and the equipment used in Malta is crucial in order to make the place more welcoming to those who are undergoing this difficult process.

PGT helps those with known genetic diseases

Kim speaks in favour of the introduction of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). People should have the choice to carry out these tests, especially those who have a known genetic disease that can be transferred to their baby.”

Moreover, people can have the option of not transferring abnormal embryos as women undergoing treatment still have to go through the whole process and take the medication, only to transfer embryos that might be abnormal and likely end up in miscarriages or complications for the baby. 

Nonetheless, Kim believes that having three free rounds of IVF is an amazing opportunity for prospective parents facing fertility issues, even though regrettably, this can be taken very much for granted. 

The Maltese Government already offers all the services related to Assisted Reproduction for free. These include all necessary blood work, including virology testing, genetic testing, consultation visits, ultrasounds and follicle tracking, all embryology work, counselling which is offered before, during and after treatment, oocyte pickup, cryopreservation of gametes and embryos, embryo transfers, Intra-uterine inseminations, TESA (testicular sperm extraction) and the distribution of donor gametes (sperm) from abroad. 

All the services offered for free would cost approximately €15,000 if they had to be sought from a private clinic. 

To date a total of 410 babies have been born from IVFs and Intra Uterine Inseminations (IUI) carried out in Malta since the Embryo Protection Authority was established in 2013.  

 

*The name has been changed to protect the identity.

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