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Vancouver mother calls for publicly funded fertility treatments on Family Day weekend

Infertility affects 1 in every 6 women but IVF costs more than $10,000 per treatment says advocate

Juvarya Veltkamp became pregnant with Blaise, now four-months old, after five rounds of in vitro fertilization treatments.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Juvarya Veltkamp became pregnant with Blaise, now four-months old, after five rounds of in vitro fertilization treatments.

A B.C. woman will be celebrating Family Day with her newborn baby for the first time this weekend and is calling on the province to publicly fund in-vitro fertility (IVF) treatments after it took several rounds of treatment for her to conceive.

IVF, which can cost more than $10,000 per treatment, is covered under provincial healthcare plans in Ontario and Quebec, but not British Columbia.

But infertility affects one in every six women in Canada and is a medical condition just like any other illness that is covered under the province’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), argues Juvarya Veltkamp, an advocate with IVF4BC.

“It’s one of the saddest things that I’ve ever been through. It’s like we have to mourn something but you can’t share that with a lot of people – they don’t understand it because nobody died,” she told Metro.

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Veltkamp and her husband are now the happy parents of a four-month old son but she doesn’t want other families to go through the same ordeal they did.

They took out loans, re-mortgaged their house, and worked multiple jobs in order to pay for five rounds of IVF treatments. The total cost was in the six-figure range, said Veltkamp.

“We were lucky that we were able to but I feel like every other person I speak to has had some difficulty. This affects so many people,” said Veltkamp.

“IVF should be publicly funded in B.C. so that families can access treatment without going into debt.”

Shaun, Blaise, and Juvarya Veltkamp, will be celebrating their first Family Day together this weekend.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Shaun, Blaise, and Juvarya Veltkamp, will be celebrating their first Family Day together this weekend.

IVF, where doctors attempt to jumpstart pregnancy by growing an embryo outside the womb for the initial few days, has a 90 per cent success rate after three rounds of treatment, according to Dr. Gary Nakhuda, a physician at the Olive Fertility Centre in Richmond, B.C. But many people give up after one round, partly because of the cost, he said.

“It pays to be persistent,” he said.

“These patients will usually have a healthy outcome – it just takes more effort sometimes and more money.”

The clinic preformed about 1,100 rounds of fertility treatments last year, 15 per cent of which were for LGBTQ patients, he told Metro.

People in the LGBTQ community often have no choice but to go to fertility clinics in order to start a family, whether that means finding a sperm or egg donor for IVF, or freezing their own eggs before a sex change, Nakhuda said.

In response to Metro’s request for comment from Health Minister Terry Lake, a ministry spokesperson sent this statement:

“Clinics offering in-vitro fertilization are private clinics and as such, the Ministry of Health has no authority over the costs charged for treatment. Our focus is to insure effective, medically necessary procedures, while keeping health care costs sustainable.”

Artificial insemination, a fertility treatment where sperm is artificially introduced into a womb, is covered under MSP.

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