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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Abu Dhabi couple gifted second chance by local IVF centre

After the pain and financial burden of an unsuccessful IVF cycle, woman who thought she'd lost her last chance for a baby gets a helping hand

Kabira Rochdi from Morocco at the Sweets Boutique in Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
Kabira Rochdi from Morocco at the Sweets Boutique in Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

If anyone knows the pain of an unsuccessful IVF cycle, it is Abu Dhabi resident Kabira Rochdi.

“I got married in 2006. I was 25 years old and married the kindest, sweetest man in the world,” the Moroccan said.

“We didn’t try to have a baby immediately. We had just moved to Abu Dhabi and were both working, so we wanted to settle first.”

But every time she went back home she said that their families were relentless: “'When will you get pregnant?' they always asked. 'Your husband will take another wife so you better hurry up and have a baby fast,' they said. I always came back in tears.”

Mrs Rochdi eventually tried to get pregnant naturally, but when it didn't happen she went to see a doctor who gave her medication and hormones to stimulate her ovaries. “This was hard and made me gain weight, but nothing compares to what I was to face later,” she said.

When she still wasn’t getting pregnant, she went to see another doctor who told her that she should not have been taking all this medication.

“The doctor told me I was misdiagnosed and had polycystic ovaries, which is why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I had never heard of polycystic ovaries and no one I know had heard of it in Morocco or had it.”

Mrs Rochidi had to have surgery and was given a guarantee that after surgery she would have children. “I did the surgery and still didn’t get pregnant.”

So after months of trying, she again went to see a doctor. “I think I saw every single doctor in the UAE,” she said. This time she was told that she had blocked Fallopian tubes and could never have a baby unless she tried IVF. “I was in shock, but my husband and I accepted it and were grateful that we had a chance … at least we still had a chance of having a child.”

In 2014, she applied for a loan of around Dh40,000 to pay for her first IVF cycle. When her period was two days late, she says she was excited. But when, the next day, she began bleeding she says it was a nightmare.

“I stopped eating and locked myself up in my room. I cried and cried until I had no more tears. It still hurts knowing that this was my last and only chance.”

Mrs Rochidi is now 38 and is still paying off the loan from the IVF cycle. She and her husband could not afford another round.

Last year, United Eastern Medical Services, the parent organization of HealthPlus Fertility Centers, launched a Year Of Giving IVF initiative, allocating Dh1 million for treatment for couples with limited income at the HealthPlus Fertility Center.

Majd Abu Zant, CEO of the HealthPlus network of specialty centers, told The National: "Upon launching our year of giving initiative last October, we received almost 1,000 applications. Out of those applicants, 450 submitted all the required documents, such as their income statement and marriage certificate. We formed a medical and administrative committee to evaluate all applications, and those more in need were selected.

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"UEMedical was then generous enough to actually increase the amount of Dh1m to around Dh1.5m, aiming to cover the treatments of a larger number of couples. Forty couples were finally selected and we covered 100 per cent of their treatment cost.

"A few of them have already started with the treatment and others will start within the coming few months. We are proud to say one couple are pregnant after undergoing treatment two months ago."

Although the campaign came to an end last month, said Mr Zant, "we were approached by our friends at The National to help one more couple.”

The company will now be covering 100 per cent of the cost of Mrs Rochdi's treatment and they hope to start within the next two months.

UEMedical is now expanding into Dubai and they will have HealthPlus Fertility operational in Dubai within the coming few weeks. "We also see patients coming from other GCC countries and we will be opening in Saudi Arabia two stand-alone facilities in Jeddah and Riyadh within the next 18 months," said Mr Zant.