Parents who were given the greatest gift of all have returned to the fertility clinic that made it possible.
Mums and dads who had struggled to conceive brought their bundles of joy back to the unit where their journey to have a baby began at its annual Christmas party.
Dozens gathered at University Hospital of Hartlepool’s Assisted Reproduction Unit for the event which gave families the chance to catch up with the medical staff who transformed their lives.
Naomi and Phil Weston, 41, from Hartlepool, brought along their daughter Robyn, seven months.
Flight attendant Naomi, 36, said: “The staff on the unit were fantastic and very supportive. We had been trying to conceive for four years. There was a couple of delays, but we began our treatment in July last year and fell pregnant on our first go.
“Before that I’d undergone two weeks of fertility injections. Because of my job, I was injecting at 36,000 feet, as you have to give yourself the injections every day.
“When you embark on IVF you prepare yourself for a long wait, but we were very lucky. We haven’t been able to come back to the unit since Robyn was born so it’s fantastic to come today and see the staff, we are so very grateful.”
Kelly and Ian Flint, from Wingate, were delighted to bring along their daughter Ellie Grace, 17 months.
“We first came here in January 2013,” explained Kelly, 31. “We got pregnant from our first try. I did the pregnancy test and didn’t dare go back in the bathroom to check it for half an hour. We couldn’t believe it. She has made such a difference, we couldn’t imagine life without her now.”
Ian, 34, said: “Ellie was full of cold for last year’s Christmas party so we couldn’t come, so we were over the moon to be invited this year.”
Dr Hany Mostafa, consultant gynaecologist and PR of the Assisted Reproduction Unit, said: “Every family has a story behind their infertility, which is a painful disease. To be able to help a couple through their painful journey is extremely important. It makes us very happy to be able to celebrate with their completed families at this annual party.
“It helps us to reflect every year too and encourage us for the next year.”
Each year around 250 couples are helped by the unit. In November, the unit received a time lapse camera which should help even more couples to conceive.
“This is the most up-to-date technology in IVF,” explained Dr Mostafa. “This technology takes a picture of the embryo every five minutes and helps us to select the best one.
“It was paid for by charity donations, so it is patients helping patients.”