A woman desperate to become a mother has been refused IVF treatment on the NHS because her husband already has a child from a previous relationship.
Sarah Parsons, 37, has been left distraught and said this might be her last chance to have a child.
It comes as yet another crushing blow for Sarah after her baby daughter, Maggie Pearl Parsons was stillborn at 39 weeks and five days in 2015 at Burnley General Hospital.
A JustGiving page has now been set up to help raise £8,000 for private treatment.
Sarah and her husband Mark, 40, had hoped they would fit the criteria for IVF available on the NHS – which is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body.
But the couple were told by health bosses their funding request had been turned down because Mark had a 19-year-old son, Oliver, from a previous relationship.
Sarah, from Blackburn, Lancs., said: “Being told we couldn’t have the treatment on the NHS was really upsetting.
“It’s a bit of a postcode lottery because the criteria says the patients, ie Mark, has a child from a previous relationship, so we cannot have the treatment.
“However the criteria is different in other areas.
“I don’t see why the conditions include this sort of detail and are not just based around my health or condition.
“There weren’t any circumstances taken into account, it was a straight ‘no’.”
Dr Andy Curran, medical director for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria said: “We cannot comment on the decisions made by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) outside our area.
“All CCGs must make decisions based on the resources available to them and the needs of their overall population, and this differs between CCGs.
“One of the aims of the revised policy is to ensure that in the future we have a consistent approach across the whole of Lancashire and South Cumbria.”
He added: “All clinical policies in Lancashire and South Cumbria are subject to five guiding principles.
“The treatments they cover must be appropriate, effective, cost-effective, ethical and affordable.
“The decision to offer assisted conception services to those patients who are childless is chiefly concerned with affordability.
“This is the case for most CCGs across the country which have adopted a similar approach.
“Only two of the eight CCGs in Lancashire and South Cumbria previously provided eligibility to couples where there were no living children from the current relationship.
“The remaining six CCGs only offered assisted conception services to couples where both partners were childless.
“The revised policy reflects the majority position where the service is only offered to couples where both partners are childless.”
Sarah added: “We were distraught. They took away our only hope, how can I accept that?
“This is our last chance because I have a very low egg reserve.
“I’m desperate to be a mum because I feel like it’s a woman’s job, the thought of not being able to raise a family as I’d always hoped is heartbreaking.
“I just want to be a mummy. I am already a mummy but I cannot actually bring up Maggie, I can only imagine it.
“I want to witness teething, taking my child to school, their first tooth – I want to be able to do all of that.”
Sarah says it took her and husband Mark a long time to feel ready again to try for children following the death of their daughter, Maggie in 2015.
“It’s taken us a long time to be as ready as you can be, you never get over losing your child,” she added.
“My husband is my rock and my anchor and I have support from other families, we are a community nobody wants to be a part of.”
Sarah was under the care of a local hospital before being referred to one in Manchester.
The hospital applied on behalf of the couple but the request was turned down. An appeal done through their GP was also rejected.
The couple have spent the last three years tirelessly devoting their time to helping raise awareness and support for families who are in need.
Since Maggie was stillborn, the couple have raised thousands of pounds to buy cold cots for funeral directors and form a quiet room at the gynaecology and breast cancer care ward at Burnley General Hospital.
Mrs Parsons’ sister, Elizabeth Grieve, has now set up a JustGiving page and is attempting to raise £8,000 for the treatment.
To donate to Mrs Parsons’ page, go to www.justgiving.com/