Calgary

Calgary charity calls for provincial IVF funding

A Calgary charity is calling on the Alberta government to fund in vitro fertilization because people in the province are selling their homes, working several jobs and going heavily into debt just to conceive a child.
A Calgary charity is calling on the Alberta government to fund in vitro fertilization. 3:00

A Calgary charity is calling on the Alberta government to fund in vitro fertilization because people in the province are selling their homes, working several jobs and going heavily into debt just to conceive a child.

So far, Quebec is the only province to fund fertility treatments.

Generations of Hope has helped about 100 families conceive by raising roughly a million dollars for IVF, a treatment where an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body.

Brandon and Rachel Newell have twins after receiving financial help for in vitro fertilization from a Calgary charity. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

Mary Ann Samaha, 44, is pregnant with her first child, but only after she went through eight rounds of IVF treatment that cost roughly $70,000. She is selling her home because she can't afford it anymore.

"I'm afraid to get excited," said Samaha, adding she has always wanted to be a mom.

Brandon Newell and his wife, Rachel Newell, received a $15,000 grant from Generations of Hope and they now have baby twins.

1 in 6 couples have trouble conceiving, says group

"For you not to be able to be parents strictly because of money — you know, we both have good jobs ... we just don't have an extra $20,000 sitting around," said Brandon. 

"That was really frustrating.  To have to look your wife in the eye and have to say I don't have the money to write this cheque is devastating to tell someone — that's all she wanted to do."

Dr. Calvin Greene, the head of one of this country's biggest fertility clinics, volunteers for Generations of Hope.

"Patients go to their family members to borrow money, they go to the bank to borrow money," he said. "We've had people that have sold property."

Greene has been pushing the last six Alberta health ministers to fund the treatment. He says it would save money, tighten IVF controls and there would be fewer high-risk, high-cost multiple pregnancies.

The charity says about one in six Alberta couples have trouble conceiving a child, and about 1,300 cycles of IVF treatment were done in Alberta last year.