Couple need to conceive a child to save their son


FOR this Melbourne couple, successfully conceiving a baby through IVF, could be the only way they are able to save the life of their three-and-a-half-year-old son, Fletcher.

Fletcher has an extremely rare genetic condition known as Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. This syndrome disrupts the immune system and makes you extremely susceptible to even minor illnesses. People with this condition often develop severe eczema. It also reduces the ability to form blood clots, so sufferers bruise and bleed very easily.

"When your platelets are really low, it causes your blood to leak from where it's not meant to be, so that's what causes Fletcher to wake up with bad nose bleeds," Olivia explains.

"The concern is that if those levels continue to get lower, your body can just spontaneously bleed internally.

"If that happened and he had a bleed in the brain, there's not a lot that can be done to come back from that."

It's a degenerative condition, put simply, if nothing is done, Fletcher will get sicker and sicker and eventually, he could lose the battle. Fletcher's older brother, Cooper, now, seven, also has the same condition, but he was able to receive a lifesaving bone marrow transfusion from a younger sibling Jackson three years ago and is now happy and healthy.

Unfortunately, no one in the family is a match for Fletcher and although he's on the global bone marrow donor registry, there's no telling how long he'll have to wait for a match - and time is running out.

"Three was the age we were worried about for Fletcher," Olivia explained. "Our older son, pretty much on the dot of turning three got really, really sick and went downhill so fast."

"He was seriously sick for twelve months, he was on death's door before he got his transplant," she said. "The difference then was that we knew we had a donor match, now we're facing the unknown."


While the family wait for a donor match from the registry, they have also begun IVF, using a special method of genetic testing to try to conceive a child who is a tissue match for Fletcher. When that baby is around a year old, he or she can donate bone marrow to their big brother in a simple procedure which won't negatively affect their own health.

The process involves creating embryos, performing a biopsy on a few cells and sending them off to America for a special genetic testing.

Each round of IVF costs the family $12000, (with some of that returned through Medicare) but the genetic testing is completely out of pocket at $6000 per cycle.

"We had thought that IVF would be relatively simple, we have five kids so I know I'm fertile," Olivia said.

Unfortunately, the couple didn't realise that at 39, Olivia is considered an advanced maternal age and her egg numbers had dropped and were not of a great quality.

"Our IVF doctor recommended we do back to back cycles to save time," Olivia said. "We did three rounds of IVF, and from those, we only managed to create three embryos for testing, with no matches."

"We did another four rounds back to back and only got one embryo, again, not a match."

The couple had $50,000 that they had saved up for a house deposit, they had hoped it would be enough to cover their IVF, but the money is almost gone, and Fletcher is no closer to the lifesaving donation he needs.

"For us, spending all of our savings was an easy decision, because it was a house or our son," Olivia said.

"But now we've almost run out, so we've been forced to ask Australia for help."

Olivia's brother has set up a Gofundme account to help the couple afford further IVF. If you can't afford to donate, please consider sharing this story and encouraging everyone you know to join the donor registry to see if you're a match. You can follow Fletcher's story on his Facebook page

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.

Topics:  health ivf lifestyle parenting

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