It could not have been a more delightful evening…cruising down the Thames in the evening sunshine in the company of around 100 people invited to celebrate the ten years since the organisations Child and Issue merged to become Infertility Network UK. Clare Lewis-Jones who headed Child and has been Chief Exec of INUK since the beginning is stepping down from her role in the autumn and it is difficult to imagine the national and international infertility scene without her. Like me, I suspect she will find it difficult to step away entirely but she has definitely done her time…and so much more…and living in Liverpool whilst heading an organisation based on the south coast of England can’t be easy. Clare’s quiet diplomacy, masking a steely determination to get a better deal for all fertility patients, will be hugely missed. She and her colleagues have always been enormously generous to DC Network, sharing information, even about sources of funding, and have set the tone for the way all of us in the fertility support sector, except a certain notorious web forum, treat each other.
Earlier in the day Walter and I had given a presentation to the organisation of fertility organisations in Europe, Fertility Europe, on the current donor conception scene in the UK…something that is very different to most other European countries. This was well received but we were overwhelmed at the end by a speech from one of the Polish delegates who thanked us both profoundly for allowing Nasz Bocian to translate DC Network’s Telling and Talking booklets and put them on their web site. She was insistent that the presence of the booklets and the short film that Walter, Zannah and I made for them, are making a huge difference in changing the climate towards openness about donor conception in Poland. Walter and I nearly melted with embarrassment but were also proud to be associated with helping another country to counter the damaging secrecy about donor conception. Having recently been in Bulgaria on holiday, we were also delighted to meet two delegates from this country and hope to be of similar support to them as they take steps towards openness and culture change in Bulgaria.
The meeting of Fertility Europe and the one organised by the British Infertility Counselling Association that I attended on Saturday are both satellites to the huge European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) conference currently taking place at the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands. This vast shed is full of doctors, embryologists and a few psychologists and counsellors from around the world and I have mixed feelings about not attending what they would definitely see as the main event. The entrance fee of several hundred pounds is not a top priority as a way for DC Network to spend money and fertility specialists are not my favourite people, but it is a great networking opportunity and can be fun to hear presentations on cutting edge topics. I’m just going to have to get myself asked to be a speaker again and get everything free! Munich next year.
Kate Brian, the journalist and author of books on fertility, is at ESHRE and her blog Fertility Matters is worth looking at (any time actually) for reports from there. http://fertilitymatters.org.uk/uncategorized/an-explanation-for-unexplained-infertility/