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When Liam McCaffrey from Milford Haven in West Wales was diagnosed with lymphoma, he and his wife, Laura, doubted they would be able to have a family. Here Liam tells their story.
"I met Laura at university and very shortly after getting married we moved to the US, where I started a new job. But no sooner had we arrived, I received the devastating news that I had lymphoma, a blood cancer which was already very advanced.
After chemotherapy I was scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. And on top of all of that, I was told by the specialist that my sperm would probably be damaged by the treatment.
Laura and I had always talked about having children, so I went ahead with the sperm freezing procedure. It gave me eight vials of sperm banked and ready to use in the future. It was tough because at this stage, whilst I knew that this type of cancer responded well to treatment, there were no guarantees of success. We just had to stick together and keep our faith and focus on a future where we could one day defrost the sperm and try and start a family.
The treatment lasted for around eight months. We were living near Oklahoma at the time and the bone marrow treatment alone involved a six-hour round trip on a regular basis. I was also dealt another blow while all this was happening, when I found out the company that I had moved to in the US to join was filing for bankruptcy.
So, when I got the confirmation from the doctors that I was in full remission, it was a relatively easy decision to leave the US and head back to the UK to be with our family.
Over a year later, Laura and I started talking again about starting a family and so we were referred to the London Women’s Clinic in Wales to talk about our options. The first step was to see how my own sperm had been affected by the treatment - and unfortunately it wasn’t good news.
To avoid any risks, we decided to have half the eight vials sent across. So, all the way from the clinic in Oklahoma the four vials of sperm travelled thousands of miles to Wales in time for Laura to begin taking the medication for the IVF treatment.
Laura responded well to treatment and we managed to get three good embryos. Two were transferred and less than two weeks later we found out she was pregnant - and on our wedding anniversary. We were over the moon, but cautious too. I think because we’d been through so much to get to this point, we were both nervous about getting too excited or complacent.
Looking back it was a long and hard journey for us, and not just in terms of air miles. Coping with my illness together and coming out of it intact was traumatic and stressful. We’d both been through a lot more in our 20s than most people - and we also had to deal with the fact that the IVF might not work.
But fortunately for us it did. And we now have, Owen, our amazing two-year-old. When he’s old enough we’ll tell him how he got here, including just how many miles he had travelled before he was even born."
Owen is Laura and Liam’s little miracle; without the London Women’s Clinic, their heart-warming story would never have happened. If you need to freeze your sperm to ensure you can start a family later on in life, or need to undergo IVF treatment, contact the London Women’s Clinic today on 020 7563 4309 and learn of the various treatments available.
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