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Thursday, November 7, 2019

The high cost of making in vitro babies

PETALING JAYA: Hidayah (not her real name) struggled for three years to conceive a child before she finally opted for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Now, the 34-year-old is pregnant at last. But the cost, more than RM16,000, has been high for her.
“We were initially saving for a house, but after five years, our priority was a baby,” Hidayah, who works at a pharmacy here, told FMT.
Fortunately for her, her family chipped in. “The rest is from my savings and those of my husband.”
All this is about to change for those finding themselves in Hidayah’s position. Last month, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) said it would introduce an option for withdrawals for subfertility treatments. This followed a proposal in the 2020 national budget.
Sunway Fertility Centre CEO Woon Ming Ming praised the move, saying it would be a relief to many couples intimidated by the hefty price tag.
However, she said, success with IVF was heavily age-dependent. The younger the patient, the higher the chance of pregnancy and the cheaper the treatment.
IVF treatment starts from RM15,000 and the cost can increase substantially, especially when the woman is older than 35.
Older women may also have to repeat the process. They generally have lower egg quality and quantities.
Younger women, according to Woon, tend to have some embryos remaining after they have completed the embryo transfer procedure. They can opt to freeze these embryos and use them later if they want more children.
Woon said the number of people consulting her facility about IVF had been increasing.
She said that was why she welcomed the EPF initiative. “It’s better than nothing. With such an option available, more people will come for the treatment.
“This option will be beneficial for younger couples who want to take charge when it comes to family planning.”
Hidayah is equally grateful. “With this incentive, I can try for a second child,” she said. - FMT

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