Overjoyed parents Gabrielle Kent and Satish Shewhorak had the best Christmas present they could wish for – a beautiful baby.
Four-month-old Ashoka Shewhorak was born after mum Gabrielle was the last patient to receive an embryo transfer at Hartlepool hospital’s Assisted Reproduction Unit (ARU).
Gabrielle told of her joy after thinking she could never have children.
But she also expressed her sadness that other parents will not receive the same gift of life from the Hartlepool unit after hospital bosses decided to withdraw IVF and other licensed fertility services.
Gabrielle, 42, a children’s writer and university lecturer, said: “I was the very last embryo transfer they did which turned out to be Ashoka and fortunately it worked.
“I’m a children’s author and the fact that I might never be able to read my own books to my child, it’s amazing it worked out.”
Speaking of her and husband Satish’s first Christmas together as a family, she added: “It’s something we thought we would never have.
“To be able to celebrate Christmas with our daughter is the most amazing feeling.”
Gabrielle received four rounds of IVF from the ARU at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
She chose it over James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and even a renowned Harley Street specialist.
Gabrielle said: “In London it was just like being on a conveyor belt, they didn’t even bother to learn your name, whereas everyone was so warm and friendly in Hartlepool. I think that helps with the treatment.”
Gabrielle, who grew up in Hartlepool where her parents Margaret and Colin Kent still live, dedicated her latest book The Witch of Demon Rock to the team at the ARU.
“All the staff are very sad about what’s happened,” she said. “Every December they have a party for all the parents of babies born in the last year and this year was the last one because no more babies are going to be made there.”
While the majority of treatments continue to be done in Hartlepool, arrangements are being put in place for more important procedures to be done at Middlesbrough or Newcastle.
Gabrielle, who lives in Middlesbrough, added: “I think it’s absolutely terrible. It’s really upsetting these things are getting moved away from Hartlepool.”