BBC explores infertility21st November 2006
A new six-part documentary series has begun, featuring people facing infertility.
The BBC’s, ‘A Child Against All Odds’ follows the emotional stories of people undergoing fertility treatment and explores the scientific procedures that offer them a chance of becoming parents. Narrated by renowned fertility guru, Dr Robert Winston, the series tackles sensitive issues such as embryonic screening and sex selection.
Some of the couples featured in the series are not infertile but are carriers of rare genetic disorders which, if passed on, can cause severe disability or even death in their offspring. The first programme followed two couples undertaking pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which involves taking cells from embryos and testing them for the presence of a specific genetic disease. More controversially, another couple with four healthy sons were featured travelling abroad for IVF treatment in an attempt to have a daughter. Sex selection is illegal in the UK.
The series continued by following women who have embarked upon freezing their embryos. The second programme featured the high profile case of Natallie Evans who, with her partner Howard Johnston, created embryos and had them frozen before she had cancer treatment that left her infertile. Since then, the couple have split up and Howard no longer wants to use the embryos, but Natallie does as it's her only chance of having her own child. Natallie’s case is due to be heard in the European Court of Human Rights before the end of the year.
As the series continues it will cover other fertility issues such as sperm extraction from infertile men, ovary transplant operations and a process called ‘assisted hatching’ in older women. A programme to be screened in December will follow a couple who are considering egg sharing to reduce the cost of their IVF treatment. The series will conclude by featuring a couple who are about to embark on their ninth cycle of IVF, having spent over £40,000 on fertility treatment.
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