Hi everyone, our names are Mandy and Chris, we have been together for 20 years and married for 7 years. I, Mandy, was diagnosed with a condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (or F.A.P for short) when I was 15 years old, this condition is an inherited condition that causes polyps in the small and large intestine which can lead to bowel/stomach cancer if not kept under control with regular procedures and operations. I had my first major surgery at the tender age of 15 when most of my large and small intestine was removed and a ‘pouch’ was put in its place, due to further complications, a bout of MRSA and kidney failure on one side due to a major infection, which now has a stent in to remain functional, I remained in hospital for around 9 months in total. Further down the line, I was in a car accident and following that it was discovered that I have Gardner Syndrome, which is a variant of Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). Gardner Syndrome is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by Gastro Intestinal polyps, multiple osteomas, skin and soft tissue tumours, these tumours are benign but can cause discomfort and tangle themselves around internal organs, these can also be caused by trauma to that area of the body. At present I have 3 tumours in my neck and 1 in my abdominal cavity. Now I regularly undergo procedures every 6 months to ‘laser’ the polyps away to keep the condition under control and kidney surgery to replace the stent every year. This is important to know before you read our story….
We have been trying for a baby for around 13 years now. We started trying as any other couple does, after a while of it not working we went to see the GP who referred us for the normal fertility tests, we tried treatment, we tried everything we could and still nothing, I couldn’t even fall pregnant. We tried our first round of IVF which was self-funded back in 2010 and it failed, we did a 2nd round which was funded by the NHS in 2012 which also failed. So after all this heartache and still no baba we decided to try for adoption. We went through months of assessments and all the red tape and in 2015 our application was rejected due to my condition, how could anyone be so cruel? My condition is under control but because I needed to have a procedure every 3 months we weren’t suitable to be parents? It was unfair and we were at a loss, we had nowhere else to go and thought we had to resign to the fact that we were never meant to be parents. By now, it was obvious that it would be dangerous for me to attempt to even carry a baby even I could fall pregnant due to the Gardner Syndrome so that was it, game over. This was a very hard time for us and it took a long time to accept it.
So, moving on a bit…I have a sister who is 3 years older than me. She has 2 children and is married. We have always been close but around the time we received the news of the rejected adoption application, my sister and her family were mourning the loss of her mother in law. I decided not to tell her about this as we didn’t want to add to the stress. Instead I waited until 6 months later and me and my sister went for a drink and I told her, of course she wasn’t happy I didn’t tell her months ago! Anyway, about 18 months ago we go round for dinner to my sister and brother in laws as we often do and they made the offer that would change everything. My sister offered to carry our baby for us as a surrogate! We were dumbstruck at first and wondered if it was a joke, but after thinking carefully we would have been crazy to turn her down and accepted the offer. We discussed at length the logistics and decided to try artificial insemination as we already knew my sister didn’t carry the gene as she was tested years ago. After trying for 9 months with no success and the stress of the ‘2 week wait’ every single month we sought advice from the GP, my sister went through the normal fertility tests and it was found that one tube wasn’t working well and her age was against us, which narrowed our chances and was advised to try IVF. We did try for another 3 months without success before we started to look into IVF options. Due to it being a surrogacy it was very expensive in the UK (around £16,000) so we started looking at other options. After much research we decided upon a clinic in Prague, they had great success rates and half the price, and as my sister is 40 we also decided to use donor eggs to give a better chance. After a mountain of paperwork and solicitor visits we did this attempt in March this year, and it failed…. We were all devastated and gutted as everything was text book and went smoothly. We now think this was down to stress levels as February and March were an awful time for us including 2 deaths in the family and a friend, and my brother in law having a cardiac arrest due to a heart condition, so there was a funeral just before we left and a funeral the day after we got back plus lots of hospital treatment.
So here we are, we are a long way down the line and still no baby. But we haven’t given up yet, my sister (and her family) has offered to give IVF another go for us. Which is why we are here! Our parents who have been 100% supportive are helping with the funds but it’s not quite enough, we are now appealing to family and friends to help us raise the funds needed for this next round to (hopefully) finally make us parents! Now you know our story we can only hope you understand how difficult this has been for us and will support us in this. Thank you for taking the time to read this (it was a bit longer than I thought it would be! But there was just so much we needed to say).
You can also donate by our crowdfunding page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mandysdream