IVF twins born three years apart return to clinic to celebrate 500th birth

PUBLISHED: 14:47 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:10 04 May 2018

Sian and Ryan Chase with daughters Yvie and Olive and Dr Thanos Papathanasiou (right). Photo: Bourn Hall

Sian and Ryan Chase with daughters Yvie and Olive and Dr Thanos Papathanasiou (right). Photo: Bourn Hall

Bourn Hall

Their difference in size means they do not look much like twins.

Yvie Chase, aged 4, Bourn Hall Wymondham's first baby, with Dr Thanos Papathanasiou. Photo: Bourn HallYvie Chase, aged 4, Bourn Hall Wymondham's first baby, with Dr Thanos Papathanasiou. Photo: Bourn Hall

But although they were both conceived from the same set of embryos, little Yvie and Olive Chase were born three years apart.

And while Yvie sets off for nursery school in the morning, 11-month-old Olive is just taking her first stumbling steps.

Yvie, now four, was the first baby born thanks to IVF treatment at the Bourn Hall Clinic in Wymondham in 2014, to parents Sian and Ryan, from Lowestoft.

Sian said: “We’d always wanted to have children – but we wanted to get married first and for me to achieve my qualifications for my career in HR. We thought we were doing things the right way and you just don’t think you’re going to have problems.”

Shepherdson family (left) and Chase family (right) celebrate with staff from Bourn Hall Clinic. Photo: Bourn HallShepherdson family (left) and Chase family (right) celebrate with staff from Bourn Hall Clinic. Photo: Bourn Hall

After a year without success they went to their GP but it was five years before Sian, 37, was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition where tissue grows outside the womb.

The couple were among the first to be referred to Bourn Hall for IVF and Sian fell pregnant after her first treatment.

Yvie arrived early at 29 weeks on January 1, 2014 and became the first baby to be born after treatment at Bourn Hall.

“Yvie was small when she was born 11 weeks early but she has caught up with all of her developmental milestones,” said Sian. “In fact she is amongst the tallest in her nursery class.”

Dr Thanos Papathanasious (left) with Philipa and Adam Shepherdson and their baby son Sully. Photo: Bourn HallDr Thanos Papathanasious (left) with Philipa and Adam Shepherdson and their baby son Sully. Photo: Bourn Hall

The couple went back to Bourn Hall in early 2017 and Sian was treated using an embryo which had been frozen three years earlier during her first cycle of treatment.

She fell pregnant first time again following her frozen embryo transfer and when Yvie was told the news that a new baby was on the way she was delighted.

“We told Yvie when I was 14 weeks pregnant. We didn’t tell her before that as she is terrible at keeping secrets,” said Sian.

“Once she knew she told everyone and kept stroking my belly and saying that the new baby could have her bedroom and her old cot, she was so excited.”

The couple welcomed Olive Elizabeth - technically Yvie’s twin - into the world, four weeks early, on May 22, 2017.

And with both girls born thanks to Bourn Hall, the family returned to the clinic on Friday to mark more than 500 babies being born thanks to IVF treatment at the centre.

Ryan, 36, added: “We now have two beautiful daughters which makes the hardship and trauma that we have gone through seem insignificant and a distant memory.”

Bourn Hall opened in 2013 and since the equivalent of one baby every three days has been born after treatment there.

One of those was Sully Shepherson, whose parents Philipa and Adam from Ormesby St Margaret met when they were just 18 and married four years later.

The pair started trying for a baby straight away but were referred for hospital tests when they were not successful.

Finally, it was found Philipa head a heart shaped uterus and mild endometriosis, but doctors did not think that was affected her fertility.

Instead, the pair fell into the 25pc of couples where there was no identifiable reason behind their problems conceiving.

Philipa, 28, said: “I felt as though something inside me was failing and it was disheartening that I didn’t know what. I felt frustrated. I had been put on fertility drugs and prodded and poked about and I still had no definite reason for not getting pregnant.

“I felt very much that it must be me that was the problem because it is women who carry children and give birth to babies and I should have been able to do that but hadn’t been able to. I carried the weight of it on my shoulders.”

After one round of IVF Philipa became pregnant, but the couple suffered a blow as their 12 week scan revealed she had suffered a miscarriage, which Philipa described as “one of the most devastating moments of [their] lives”.

When the second round of treatment did not work, they wanted to take a break, but cuts to NHS funding of IVF meant they felt like they had to go ahead.

Philipa said: “We hadn’t had any embryos left to freeze after our first two treatments, and so this really was our last round and our last chance. Third time around we were given a completely different treatment plan with different drugs – and thankfully I got pregnant and we were really excited.”

After what Philipa described as an “amazing pregnancy’”she gave birth to Sully in December last year.

She was also grateful that, as this July sees the 40th anniversary of the first IVF baby, she and Adam benefited from IVF and got the baby they had always dreamt of.

“IVF is just the most amazing thing,” she said. “I just hadn’t realised before what goes into IVF and how over the years it has developed. There are so many different ways now of helping both women and men with fertility issues. It amazes me that we have our own IVF baby, it is just mind-blowing.”

Bourn Hall works closely with GPs across Norfolk and provides an NHS fertility testing service to NHS and self-funded patients as well as providing full IVF treatments.

Lead clinician Dr Thanos Papathanasiou is immensely proud of his dedicated team.

“Fertility treatment is as much about hearts and minds as it is about selecting the right therapy,” he said.

“Our success rates are among the highest in the country and this is achieved by tailoring the treatment to the individual. There are no guarantees, so our aim is to give everyone the best chance of success and for them to feel confident in their choices.

“We have a great team here and to have helped hundreds of couples in Norfolk achieve their dream of parenthood is hugely satisfying. I love coming to work every day.”

The clinic advises that only a small number of people actually require IVF and other assisted conception treatments are an option.

To give advice on improving fertility health, Bourn Hall Clinic will be hosting a stand at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show on the June 27 and 28, which for the first time has an emphasis on wellbeing.

Visitors will be able to find out more about how to improve their chances of having a baby. Find them at stand 79 on avenue 4.

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