Made in Aldridge

‘Made in Aldridge’ is a regular e-news feature which tells the story of a woman’s or couple’s experience at MFS and the impact of the result on their lives.

If you would like your story to be featured in ‘Made in Aldridge’, complete the form and we will follow up your details.

The MFS 25th Anniversary 25 Milestone Babies

This issue’s Made in Aldridge is slightly different – it’s not about a single baby, or even twins or triplets. Instead this issue celebrates 25 MFS Milestones – one to mark every year of the clinic’s silver history.

Twenty-five very special ‘babies’ gathered in Aldridge for a unique commemorative photograph which tells a history of MFS, via some of the lives of the (almost) 5,500 babies born following treatment at the clinic since it opened in 1987. Each one has a very special place not only in their family, but also in the history of MFS and, in some cases, in the history of fertility treatment in the UK. So, as the world marks the birth in 2012 of the 5 millionth IVF baby, enjoy this salute to ALL those who are part of the wider MFS family, as told through the stories of these incredible ‘babies’ and their parents.

Read all their stories below.


Brett Rigby – MFS ‘Baby 1’, born October 1998, now age 23

Michelle Rigby – MFS ‘Sibling 1’, born April 1991, now age 21

Michelle and Brett, with their parents Martin and Pauline Rigby

Pauline and Martin Rigby of Wylde Green, tried to conceive for five years before being referred for the newly-available IVF treatment in 1987. They funded the £6,000 total cost of their treatment by selling their home and ‘down-sizing’. Brett was born after their third treatment cycle and Michelle followed after just one more cycle. Brett now works in electronics and Michelle is training in children’s nursing.

Pauline said: “First of all Happy 25th! We feel it’s been an honour to be a part of something very special and will always be grateful for MFS’s involvement in our family.”

Amy and Chris Barlow – MFS’s 1st Twins, born January 1990, now age 22

Amy and Chris Barlow, with their mum Linda
Amy and Chris Barlow, with their mum Linda

Linda Barlow of Aldridge, tried to conceive for many years before tests diagnosed endometriosis and cysts, which required surgical removal. Fifteen years after first trying to conceive doctors suggested she and her then husband might try IVF treatment, which was still considered very new. Amy and Chris were born after two self-funded treatment cycles which cost about £5,000. Amy is now a high school teacher and Chris is completing his third year at Coventry University.

Linda commented: “My advice to couples who need IVF is to never give up! Amy and Chris are the best gift ever given and it’s an honour that they are involved in MFS’ 25th anniversary celebrations. From the day they were born, I have never underestimated how lucky I am.”

Michael Robinson – MFS’ 1st Frozen Embryo Transfer Baby, born January 1991, now age 21

Michael with his mum, Karen Robinson
Michael with his mum, Karen Robinson

Karen and Howard Robinson of Wolverhampton, tried to conceive for 10 years but blocked Fallopian tubes meant that Karen could only conceive with the, then, relatively new technique of IVF. Michael was born following two treatment cycles and then a frozen embryo transfer – which was a very new development at the time. They paid £1,300 for their treatment. Michael is now a swimming pool lifeguard.

Karen said: “I would like to thank everybody at MFS – we would not have had our son Michael without their help. Michael loves the involvement he has with MFS and to me he gives hope to other couples.”

Sarah Gentle – MFS ‘Baby 500’, born November 1995, now age 16

The Gentle family - Janet, Sarah and John
The Gentle family - Janet, Sarah and John

John and Janet Gentle of Shrewsbury, tried to conceive for four years before Janet was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). No funding was available for their treatment ‘though their GP agreed to fund up to three cycles of drugs. They had a single cycle of IVF treatment but the first embryo transfer was not successful. Following a frozen embryo transfer, their daughter Sarah was born in November 1995. She has just finished sitting her GCSEs, is a Grade 8 cellist and is planning on starting her A-levels studies later this year. In total Janet and John paid about £2,500 for their treatment.

Benjamin Wilson-Walker – MFS ‘Baby 1,000’, born April 1998, now age 14

Samantha Wilson-Walker – MFS ‘Baby 1,500’, born June 1999, now age 13

The Wilson-Walker family (clockwise) Marian, Ben, Sam, Julie and Sophie
The Wilson-Walker family (clockwise) Marian, Ben, Sam, Julie and Sophie

After four years together, Marian and Julie Wilson-Walker, from Harborne, turned to MFS to help them have a family. Following IUI treatment with donor sperm they now have three MFS babies and their first two, Ben and Sam are BOTH MFS milestones! Over the years they paid approximately £3,500 for their treatment.

Marian said: “We have three beautiful children which we would never have had without the help of MFS. We are very proud of Ben and Sam, especially of their recognition as two of MFS’ milestones.”

Molly and Hannah Pitchforth – MFS ‘Baby 2,000’, born April 2001, now age 11

Molly and Hannah Pitchforth, with mum and dad, Sally and Jim
Molly and Hannah Pitchforth, with their mum and dad, Sally and Jim

After two years of trying to conceive and being diagnosed with ‘unexplained’ infertility, Jim and Sally Pitchforth from near Pershore had a single cycle of IUI treatment and conceived twins Molly and Hannah. Their treatment was self-funded and cost the couple about £600.

Emily Perry – MFS’ and the UK’s 1st Frozen Egg Baby, born June 2002, now age 10

Emily with mum Helen Perry
Emily with her mum Helen Perry

After trying to conceive for about eight years, Helen and Lee Perry of Ludlow were told they would need fertility treatment to conceive because a burst appendix in infancy had damaged Helen’s Fallopian tubes. However, their religious beliefs meant they were uneasy with the possibility of creating and storing embryos – some of which may never be allowed ‘a full chance of life’. In 2000 MFS received a licence to freeze and store eggs and when Helen over-responded to the fertility drugs during treatment in early 2001, the couple opted to freeze these eggs with the intention of thawing and fertilising just a few at every attempt at conception in the future, so avoiding the creation of supernumerary embryos. Born in 2002, their daughter Emily was the UK’s and MFS’ first frozen egg baby – using the slow-freeze method rather than vitrification flash-freezing, which was introduced later.

Francesca Brookes – MFS ‘Baby 2,500’, born May 2003, now age 9

Francesca with her mum and dad, Michelle and Garry Brookes

Wolverhampton couple Michelle and Garry Brookes tried to conceive for seven years, before Michelle was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and ovarian cysts. Following two self-funded cycles of IVF, costing a total of about £5,000, their daughter Francesca was born – and MFS had reached milestone baby 2,500!

Michelle said: “We say a huge thank you to all at MFS. You gave us our beautiful special little girl who brings pure joy to our lives everyday. You made us a family which was our dream come true.”

Cameron Sinclair – MFS ‘Baby 3,000’, born November 2004, now age 7

The Sinclair family - David, Cameron and Nina
The Sinclair family - David, Cameron and Nina

Cameron was born to Nina and David Sinclair of Wolverhampton after more than six years of trying for a baby and two NHS-funded cycles of ICSI treatment. After losing two pregnancies before six weeks, from her fresh and frozen embryo transfers from their first ICSI cycle, they were finally successful after another fresh embryo transfer from their second treatment cycle.

Annie Trinity Hattersley – MFS’ 1st ‘Grandma Surrogate’ Baby, born November 2005, now age 6

Annie Trinity Hattersley with 'Nanny Annie' Casserly, mum Emma and Dad Andrew
Annie Trinity Hattersley with 'Nanny Annie' Casserley and her mum and dad, Emma and Andrew

Emma Hattersley always knew that a rare lung condition would make it dangerous for her to carry a pregnancy. When she and husband Andrew wanted to try for a family they knew that surrogacy was their only option and after extensive consultation and counselling they agreed their perfect surrogate with the clinical team at MFS – Emma’s mum, Annie Casserley. Annie was a fit and healthy 52 year old when the embryos created from Emma’s eggs and Andrew’s sperm using standard IVF were transferred into her. Baby Annie was named after her ‘Nanny Annie’ and her middle name reflects the three people involved in her conception. Emma and Andrew paid about £4,000 for their treatment.

Emma said: “Happy 25th anniversary MFS from one eternally grateful family. There are not enough words to say how much we thank you for our special miracle Annie Trinity. From the very start every member of staff was very friendly, approachable and caring. We were turned away from another clinic but Dr Lockwood agreed to help and we thank you so much for our present and future with our wonderful daughter.

“We are delighted that Annie Trinity is involved in the celebrations for MFS’ 25th anniversary and very proud she is a ‘MFS Milestone’.”

Lola Turley – MFS ‘Baby 3,500’, July 2006, now age 5

Lola Turley with mum Marina and little sister Daisy
Lola Turley with mum her Marina and little sister Daisy

Marina and Lee Turley of Cannock were trying to conceive for four years before being referred to MFS. ICSI treatment was recommended and their PCT funded the first treatment cycle as well as two subsequent frozen embryo transfers. However Marina and Lee paid for the next two treatment cycles themselves and Lola was born following their fifth embryo transfer.

Marina said: “We are so very grateful to have Lola – she is so very special, as is our second daughter who was conceived naturally. But we are sure that both of them are here because of the treatment we had at MFS.”

Lewis and Erin Cross – MFS ‘Baby 4,000’, born February 2008, now age 4

The Cross family - Erin, Darren, Carol and Lewis
The Cross family - Erin, Darren, Carole and Lewis

After 10 years of trying to have a baby and miscarrying two naturally conceived pregnancies, Carole and Darren Cross of Redditch began self-funded ICSI treatment at MFS, after switching from another clinic. Following five embryo transfers at MFS and two ectopic pregnancies resulting in the loss of both Erin Fallopian tubes, twins Lewis and Erin were born in 2008, after a fresh blastocyst transfer.

Carole said: “If it wasn’t for MFS we would never have had our family – we are now complete. The staff at MFS helped and supported us through our lowest times and shared our joy too. We can never thank them enough for the gift of our children. We are privileged and honoured that Lewis and Erin are a part of this celebration and will forever be a part of the history of MFS – just as MFS will always be a part of us!”

Zach Howley – MFS’ 2,000th ICSI baby, born January 2009, now age 3

Zach with his parents Fred and Shareena Howley
Zach with his parents Fred and Shareena Howley

Shareena and Fred Howley from near Cannock always knew the odds to conceive were stacked against them. Following a roofing accident in 1993 Fred suffered injuries to his lower spine and was unable to walk – although he later went on to achieve a bronze medal with the British wheelchair basketball team in the 2004 Athens Paralympics. However the injuries also severely reduced the quality of his sperm. Shareena had also been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which in turn reduced the quality of the eggs she was able to produce. After nine years of fertility treatment including ICSI with Fred’s surgically recovered sperm, IUI with donor sperm and a break to ‘get on with life’, they eventually conceived with the gift of donated embryos, which had been created using the ICSI technique.

After Zach’s birth Shareena said: “It didn’t matter to us that our baby wouldn’t be genetically related to me or Fred, just as we’d have loved any baby we might have adopted as our own. And using donor embryos meant that the baby would grow inside me and that I would give birth, so it seemed to be the answer we’d been looking for.”

Ellie and Richie Gummerson – MFS ‘Baby 4,500’, August 2009, now age 2

Richie and Ellie with mum and dad, Libby and Mark Gummerson
Richie and Ellie with their mum and dad, Libby and Mark Gummerson

Libby and Mark Gummerson, from Hereford, tried to conceive for four years with no success. After Libby had surgery to check for blocked tubes and other conditions that could prevent her getting pregnant, their infertility remained ‘unexplained’ and they were granted funding for IVF by their PCT and referred to MFS.

Following just a single cycle of IVF, Libby and Mark conceived twins. The couple also went on to conceive naturally following the birth of the twins and had another son, 15 months later in 2010.

Mark said: “MFS is an outstanding clinic in all respects. It’s and honour and a privilege to help with the 25th anniversary. We can’t thank them enough and highly recommend them to others facing similar issues.”

Ryleigh Shepherd – MFS’ Longest Frozen Embryo, born November 2010, now age 20 months

Ryleigh Shepherd with her sisters Bethany (l) and Megan and mum and dad Lisa and Adrian
Ryleigh Shepherd with her sisters Bethany (l) and Megan and mum and dad Lisa and Adrian

Lisa and Adrian Shepherd of Willenhall started trying to conceive in 1994. They knew their chances were slim as Lisa had been diagnosed with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when she was 20. Following two years of negative pregnancy tests, their GP confirmed they were eligible for PCT-funded IVF.

After a single cycle of IVF they conceived twins and their daughters Megan and Bethany were born in August 1999. They also had 12 embryos in frozen storage at MFS. Following annual contact from the clinic about the embryos reaching the end of the permissible storage period, Lisa and Adrian decided to try one more time to conceive.

Although Ryleigh was born in November 2010, all three daughters are actually conceptual triplets. Ryleigh is an MFS record-breaker as her embryo was created at the same time as her sisters’, but was frozen at MFS for 11 years, two months and five days before being thawed and transferred to their mother’s uterus. She’s another amazing ‘ice-baby’ from MFS!

Olivia Bate – MFS’ and the UK’s 1st Vitrified Egg Baby, born December 2010, now age 19 months

Olivia Bate, with mum and dad Karen and Carl
Olivia Bate, with her mum and dad, Karen and Carl

Karen Bateman was diagnosed with endometriosis and after trying to conceive for more than two years she and her partner Carl Bate were advised they were eligible for funded IVF treatment at MFS. The first treatment cycle of IVF was unsuccessful and following an embryologist’s analysis of their embryos, ICSI was recommended for their second treatment cycle. Carl provided a semen sample but it was unsuitable for ICSI. Karen’s egg collection could not be delayed and so after advice from MFS, the couple decided to go ahead with vitrifying – ‘flash-freezing’ – her collected eggs. Eight of these would be preserved and then thawed and fertilised with Carl’s sperm, from a sample produced at a later date.

Following a break of five months, the couple returned to MFS and this time Carl’s sperm sample was OK to use. All of Karen’s eight vitrified eggs were successfully thawed and six embryos were created using the ICSI technique. Two blastocyst embryos were transferred back to Karen’s uterus and the birth of their daughter Olivia marked not only a first for MFS, but also for the UK.

Karen said: “We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for all the work they did helping us to have Olivia. We are honoured that our little girl is part of the celebrations.”

Jai Singh – MFS’ and the UK’s 1st Vitrified Egg Boy, born January 2011, now age 18 months

Jai Singh with his mum and dad, Satnam and Palvinderjeet
Jai Singh with his mum and dad, Satnam and Palvinderjeet

Palvinderjeet Kaur and her husband Satnam Singh of Wednesbury were advised that Satnam’s diabetes would make it difficult for them to conceive naturally and ICSI treatment was recommended. On the day of Palvinderjeet’s egg collection no suitable sperm was available and so some of her retrieved eggs were flash-frozen to be thawed and then fertilised with Satnam’s sperm at a later date. Jai is the UK’s first male baby born from a flash-frozen, or vitrified, egg.

Satnam said: “We are very pleased to be involved in celebrating MFS’ good work of making wishes come true.”

Harry and Jacob Moreby – MFS ‘Baby 5,000’, born April 2011, now age 15 months

Harry and Jacob Moreby
Harry and Jacob Moreby

Heidi and Jon Moreby of Leamington Spa, tried to conceive for 18 months, during which time they suffered an early miscarriage, before they were referred to MFS for a single PCT-funded ICSI cycle. Their first cycle was unsuccessful but the second, which they self-funded (approximately £4,000) resulted in the birth of Harry and Jacob – and MFS had reached ‘Baby 5,000’ in its 24th year of helping people to have families.