When Louise Brown was born in 1978 she was the first IVF person in the world. Now, it is a worldwide phenomenon with thousands of organisations devoted to fertility issues. Each month Louise Brown will look at a single organisation and explain what they do and how they support fertility issues.
Last month I visited Switzerland for the first time and spent some time at the headquarters of Ferring Pharmaceuticals in Saint-Prex where I was able to talk with their employees.
I guess most of us think of pharmaceutical companies as just big faceless global organisations out to make a profit. In fact what I found was a research-driven business committed to helping people around the world build families and live better lives.
Ferring invited me to share my story – and more importantly my parents’ story – with their employees worldwide live through video links connecting to their sites around the world. It was fun but it also showed that while so much progress has been made in IVF, the barriers my mum and dad faced back in the 1970s are much the same as those faced by people trying to access treatment today.
‘Ferring is breaking down barriers within the trying to conceive community’
Those barriers include the cost; not having treatment available in the community you live and cultural differences. I was pleased to hear that Ferring wants to play a role in breaking down these barriers, but they know they can’t do it alone.
We were able to talk about how the efforts of many companies, governments, individuals and influencers will be needed to ensure fairer access to IVF treatment worldwide. Working together, we can help amplify the voices of those who feel too ashamed to access fertility treatment, those who cannot afford IVF treatment, or those who are being prevented from accessing IVF treatment because of their sexuality or marital status.
‘A win on the pools helped my parents to become parents’
Many people probably do not know that it was only because my dad had a football pools win that my mother was able to have an operation on her fallopian tubes. Without that operation the first IVF treatment would not have been successful. Mum and dad also had to travel hundreds of miles from home for that treatment.
Like me, and like my mum, Ferring knows that IVF gives people more than just a baby, it creates a family. It was good to see their offices and their manufacturing and production facility, where their treatments are packaged before being shipped around the world to help people.
It was also fun to meet the baby they created to celebrate 40 years of IVF made up of 50,000 LEGO bricks, which greets visitors to Ferring offices. Each brick represents 10 babies born each year through assisted reproductive technologies. Over 700 Ferring employees from over 25 countries have signed the baby to symbolise commitment to building families – and now so have I!
Follow Ferring on Instagram @ferringpharmaceuticals to join their #projectfamily conversation, share your story and learn more about Ferring’s commitment to building families of every shape and size.