Cloverdale mom supports call for province to fund IVF

Misty Busch says her twins, conceived through IVF, were born prematurely, resulting in a stay at the neonatal intensive care unit. - Contributed photo
Misty Busch says her twins, conceived through IVF, were born prematurely, resulting in a stay at the neonatal intensive care unit.
— image credit: Contributed photo

For Cloverdale mom Misty Busch, the hardest part of giving birth to premature twins was having to leave her babies at the hospital the end of every day, even though they were in good hands.

Misty’s baby boy and girl were born with a low birth weight and feeding complications that required several agonizing weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

“It was horrible leaving your babies at the hospital,” she says.

The twins were born at just 33 weeks, after a difficult, high-risk pregnancy plagued with problems.

Twins are more likely to be born prematurely, setting them up for a higher risk of complications and long-lasting health impacts such as developmental delay and cerebral palsy.

Just 12 weeks after she’d conceived through in vitro fertilization, Misty developed gestational diabetes, and was prescribed bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy – a span of four and a half months, from September to the third week of January.

“There were lots of hurdles,” she remembers.

Just 26 when she and her husband sought help, Misty was one of the youngest patients seeking help at the fertility clinic at UBC hospital.

Two prior tubal pregnancies meant it was inadvisable, possibly dangerous, for Misty to conceive through conventional means.

In IVF, an egg is fertilized outside the body, and implanted.

Determined to add to their young family, Misty underwent two rounds of IVF in order to conceive, an exhausting process and an expensive one.

Like many couples struggling with infertility, she and her husband opted to transfer two embryos at one time – in hopes of boosting the odds that the expensive medical procedure would be a success, even though the decision carries certain risks.

Each attempt costs between $8,000 to $10,000 – with no guarantees that it will work, Misty says – and involves medical appointments, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer. procedure isn’t presently covered by the province in B.C., but for Misty and Kevin, a young couple just starting out, it was worth it, even if the quest to conceive put other dreams like buying a house on hold.

“I had the rest of my life to have a house,” says Misty. “I didn’t have the rest of my life to have a child. To me, it was a no-brainer. My drive to be able to have children was much more than it was to be a home owner at that moment.”

Misty recently stepped forward to lend her voice to a campaign launched by the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada calling on the province of B.C. to publicly fund single embryo transfer IVF.

“I consider myself lucky. I’m trying to pave the way for others,” she says.

[Misty Busch cradles her twins.]

The province of Quebec has already adopted the policy, which proponents say will lead to fewer complications for mothers and babies, and will save the health care system money by reducing multiple births.

A report commissioned by the association released last week suggests B.C. could save $78 million in healthcare dollars in the first five years if it agrees to fund single embryo transfer IVF.

One in six couples suffer from infertility, says Misty, who points to the results of a survey the Infertility Awareness Association released in December that found 73 per cent of British Columbians agree the province should provide public funding for IVF.

Multiples are more than 17 times more likely to be pre-term, require a caesarean section, and need post-delivery care.

With that in mind, Misty says if she had it all to do over again, she would choose to have one embryo implanted during her IVF procedure. Some clinics make it standard practice, she adds.

“They’re trying to get you a healthy baby, and a healthy pregnancy. A multiple pregnancy isn’t necessarily a success,” she says.

At the time, the Busches didn’t have tons of money to keep “throwing into this” so they decided – as do many other couples trying to conceive through IVF – to have more than one embryo implanted at one time.

“I decided to put back two embryos based on the fact of how expensive it was,” she explained. “We’re talking eight to 10,000 dollars per try.”

The provincial government so far says funding IVF isn’t in the budget, but she remains hopeful that will one day change.

“The government’s concern is what these procedures will cost and taxpayers are asking why are we paying for people to have children.”

By creating more awareness around the issue, she hopes the public will realize it makes financial sense and is the right thing to do because infertility is ultimately a health issue affecting so many.

It’s been five years since those harrowing days and nights when the twins were born. Now five, they are healthy and happy.

For the past three years, Misty has co-led an infertility support group in Ocean Park. They meet at the library in Ocean Park every third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.

“I find we’re a very unique group. We have a place for people to come and talk. We also give them the resources to deal with their infertility.”

Along with peer support, participants find resources, and learn from guest speakers – from reflexologists to Chinese medicine practitioners and, recently, a reproductive endocrinologist.

When she was going through IVF treatment, Misty says she’d look at a photo album of success stories in the medical lobby at UBC.

Knowing that it had worked for other people gave her hope.

Providing hope to other couples is an important aspect of her work at the infertility support group.

“For these women this is very painful. For husbands, too. It’s heartbreaking.”

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