A woman has made a tearful plea to the Victorian government begging them to reconsider the suspension of fertility treatment.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Martin Foley announced the ban of non-urgent elective surgery in Victoria starting on January 12.
IVF clinics were included and were asked to also suspend scheduled appointments for 90 days to free up more health resources as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
"You have both made a decision that is greatly affecting not only myself but so many women around Victoria," Melanie said in a heartbreaking Instagram video.
"I can't even fathom how you came to the decision that you did."
'We've tried everything'
Melanie implored the government to think about the IVF process and the effect of what pausing it for three months would look like.
"I really just wanted to let you know that this is not something that I elected to do, and not one other person who was going through IVF or who has been through IVF, or who's just about to start IVF has elected to do," she said tearfully, adding for some it's their only opportunity to have a child.
"We have tried everything else," she said. "Trust me. We have tried everything else."
Melanie continued saying women trying for a child listened to the experts, calling for them to do the same.
“We listened to you in 2020 and 2021, we got double vaxxed. And you know what, I’m assuming we were probably the most hesitant people to get vaxxed. Every day we are pumping so much medication into our body, you can have no idea," she said.
“There was no data showing how this would interact with our medication, how it would affect our ovaries and eggs, or what effect it would have on getting pregnant.
“But you know what? We trusted you because you told us to listen to the experts. So I am begging you, please now listen to the experts. We did what we have to do.”
Melanie asked Mr Andrews and Mr Foley to go home and "erase" every single trace of their children, asking them to put themselves in her, and many other women's positions.
"Have a look around and then empty it mentally; delete any trace of children in your house," she said.
"It's awful and it's odd. It's weird. It doesn't make sense, but it is exactly what you are asking us to do —exactly what you're forcing us to do. It doesn't make any sense at all.
"[This is] just one woman's perspective," she concluded the video.
"Don't forget one in eight women are going through infertility."
Acting Health Minister says IVF will be restored as soon as possible
Acting Health Minister James Merlino said the government was working to resume IVF services "as quickly as possible", despite declaring a code brown emergency in hospitals on Tuesday.
"I've got some dear friends currently going through IVF or have been through IVF. So I know what an emotional toll it is, what a financial toll it is," he said.
"This is in many cases a last opportunity to create a family for themselves so I am absolutely empathetic.
The moment we can boost or return to services for IVF patients we will absolutely do so."
90 days might make the difference between conceiving or not
Dr Fleur Cattrall, Medical Director at Melbourne IVF, said for older patients, or those with low ovarian reserve, it is essential they have access to time-critical treatments.
"We are sympathetic to the current Covid-19 situation in Victorian hospitals but we also recognise the urgency of patients in accessing fertility treatments," she told Yahoo News Australia.
"We have safely carried out IVF procedures during the past year of restrictions and lockdowns, and we feel the right path to take now is to resume treatment — now that most people are vaccinated — and life is starting to return to normal."
Dr Lynn Burmeister from Number One Fertility in Melbourne said each month when going through IVF is "precious" and can't just be "turned on and off like a tap."
"Three months might make the difference between them having a baby or not," she told Yahoo News Australia.
"The patient has undergone counselling and nurse appointments, they've picked up their expensive medication; it's not just something that can just stopped and started like this."
Dr Burmeister explained in the lead-up to an egg collection, women will go through 10 days of injections and preparation before the collection which they are put under general anaesthetic for.
"Often [they've been] taking vitamins in preparation for months and getting themselves as healthy as possible before they start," she explained.
"So they've done already months preparation, and then they're ready to start and then they get just stopped."
IVF nurses forced to use annual leave
She said the suspension is "devastating."
"[My patients] already emotionally and physically traumatised by the fact that they are have been diagnosed with infertility and being told that they can't start an IVF cycle is just so traumatic," she said.
Dr Burmeister added that the hospital staff that work in IVF clinics don't work on Covid wards, so when treatment is paused they're forced to use thier annual leave.
"They're not impacting the Covid patient management, keeping IVF going," she said.
"It's not elective. It should never be called elective. I don't know how it ended up in the category of elective because it's not."
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