A lesbian couple from Brighton have become mothers after winning a round of free IVF through an Instagram competition.
Cleopatra Fraser, 36, and Sam Wain, 30, welcomed Maude Sorrel Dean Fraser into their family on 20 May when she was born, weighing 6lb 15oz.
But if it weren’t for Cleopatra scrolling through her feed, she might not have arrived at all.
The competition, run by the Agora Clinic and the Fertility Health Hub, was launched to help prospective parents who were under financial pressure due to the pandemic.
Ms Fraser said: “We heard about six weeks after entering, we literally hadn’t given it a second thought. We were thinking about how to save up or borrow money. It was amazing.”
Before applying for the initiative, the couple had been told they would have to start fertility treatments soon due to Fraser’s endometriosis and Wain’s low ovarian reserves.
As an LGBTQ+ couple, they were also ineligible for any NHS funding under Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group rules.
Ms Fraser said: “We knew there was no route for us through the NHS. Obviously I’d rather it wasn’t discriminatory but at the same time I feel fortunate that we live in an area that we can go to a clinic and have a child.
“We were both studying, we’d just come back from travelling due to the pandemic, financially we weren’t in position to think about doing that.
“It was difficult because we didn’t want to miss the boat; we didn’t want to regret not having a go at it in the timeframe that we had left.”
From many applicants, Fraser and Wain were selected at random and were assisted by the Agora clinic.
Wain had IVF treatment using her eggs, and due to a high-risk pregnancy delivered Maude via a C-section under general anaesthetic.
This meant neither parent was able to witness the birth due to covid regulations at the time, but they feel “very fortunate” to have started their family.
The Agora clinic is the first clinic involved in the Global Fertility Clinics vs Covid Initiative to achieve a successful pregnancy through fully funding a fertility treatment cycle.
Following significant changes to NHS fertility funding in Sussex from 1 November 2021, the Agora clinic has seen more funded patients through the NHS GP referral pathway.
Agora’s medical director, Carole Gilling-Smith, said: “We want everyone to have a chance to have a family whatever their gender or sexual orientation.”