Meet Kayla, the little wonder baby: Joy as fertility course using egg yolks and soya finally does trick
They had already been through the heartbreak of three failed cycles of IVF, now this Belfast couple are proud parents of a beautiful baby girl– thanks to a drip containing egg yolk and soya bean oil.
Sharon and Gerard Brown tried for nine years to conceive and at one point had given up hope.
But the 29-year-old finally fell pregnant when undergoing a cycle of ICSI – a procedure similar to IVF – and was given an infusion containing the unusual cocktail.
She gave birth to little Kayla Sarah in December 2013.
The couple had been undergoing fertility treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital soon after getting married.
Finally, after having tests done at Dublin clinic, it was discovered Sharon had 'natural killer cells' –a condition which meant her body was attacking the embryos, causing her to miscarry.
It was then they were offered the Intralipid infusion therapy. It is thought to have a stabilising effect on cell membranes, making it harder for the killer cells to attack embryos.
"The last nine years have been a rollercoaster of a journey, but I have my daughter," Sharon said.
"We were just going to draw a line under it and try and move on. But, thankfully, on our fourth attempt with a new clinic we got pregnant."
Sharon added: "When we did the pregnancy test we just couldn't believe it."
Intralipid was given every four weeks at Beacon Care Fertility in Dublin until the 12th week of pregnancy to allow normal development and prevent miscarriage. "But it wasn't until we had the scan and saw the little heartbeat that we really believed it was happening," she said.
Kayla was born at 12.16am on December 2 at the RVH.
Sharon said: "There are no words that can describe it when I saw her for the first time. When you have that skin-on-skin moment, and I have Gerard's arms wrapped around all of us, it was just like I'm floating."
Couples in Northern Ireland get one free cycle of fertility treatments such as IVF and then pay for any further cycle, which costs thousands. Couples in other parts of the UK receive two.
"I just want to raise awareness that fertility problems can affect women of any age," she explained.
"I found out when I was in my early 20s, and even though we had to go through some very tough times, both of us just feel so blessed. I would recommend if anyone who had failed that cycle and was going to pay for another attempt to go and get proper tests. Don't just go back and redo it – we were lucky we found out what was wrong and now have Kayla."
Glenn Atkinson of Beacon Care Fertility explained: "If a problem is identified, treatment is quite straightforward. In Sharon's case, we prescribed Intralipid therapy, a solution based on egg and soya products, as part of her IVF cycle.
"Given in drip form, the infusion is well tolerated and is shown to calm down an overactive immune system, allowing an embryo to implant in the womb – eating more eggs or soya won't work!"
Just what is Intralipid infusion therapy?
It has been around for decades as a way to correct an essential fatty acid and calorie deficiency.
The solution contains 20% soyabean oil, 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids, 2.25% glycerin and water. Given via an intravenous infusion, it goes directly into the bloodstream to supply the body with several essential fatty acids.
These are substances that can't be made by the body but are required for many biological functions, including reproduction.
Recently, doctors began to wonder whether it could be used to boost women who had immune systems that attacked their own embryos.
In 2011 a trial was launched with women in England having the experimental treatment. They had all failed to become pregnant after an average of six IVF attempts – yet half conceived after having the infusion.
It is thought it has a stabilising effect on cell membranes, which makes it harder for killer cells to attack.