Five couples will begin free fertility treatment as winners in an Ottawa radio station contest dismissed as "tacky" by an infertility awareness group, but praised as "amazing" by one of the women who will undergo the procedure.
"If you've never been through it you don't know," said Carly Perkins, 23, while dismissing criticism of the controversial Hot 89.9 Win a Baby contest.
"The chance to just have a baby is incredible. What they're doing is absolutely amazing, and there's nothing negative in my head at all about it," she said.
Carly and her husband, Benjamin, have been together nine years and are coming up on their first wedding anniversary. The Athens, Ont., couple was stunned by the news.
"I was shocked, amazed and happy for everyone. I'm so thrilled that we all got an opportunity," said Carly. "It's a chance to have a child, you can't put words to that," she said.
Benjamin, 25, who is in a wheelchair, said a car accident in January 2007 resulted in him breaking his neck. But the fact that he is a quadriplegic hasn't deterred him from trying to start a family.
"It took a long time to recover but I definitely wouldn't be able to do it without my wife. We were quite informed as to what to do and which way to go. The way that science is now there are ways around everything pretty much," said Benjamin, adding that they consulted with other people who are quadriplegics.
But a Canadian infertility awareness group has branded the contest as "tacky." Beverly Hanck, executive director of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, acknowledged the contest generated plenty of publicity for the station, but caused undue pain for the five couples who were contest finalists.
"Pain is personal and having to expose that in order to have a chance of getting treatment ... is a sad state of affairs," said Hanck, who heads the Montreal-based group. "I found it (contest) really tacky, I mean it's like you're trying to give a human being. I just don't find it nice at all," she said.
About 400 couples applied for the contest which was marked by controversy over ethical questions after it began in early September. The five couples will receive up to three rounds of invitro fertility treatments which could cost up to $35,000 per couple. Hanck said she feels for the plight of the couples, but added there could be grave emotional ramifications for any new offspring if the treatments are successful.
"My thought was 'what's the kid going to think? He's going to think he was won in a contest like a stuffed teddy bear. Did anybody think about that? Did anybody think about how the pain would be exacerbated for the ones that didn't have an opportunity to win the contest,'" she said. Hanck said she lobbied the Ontario government for about seven years to pay for fertility treatments for couples but to no avail.
She is also disappointed that the issue of fertility treatments for infertile couples did not become a hot topic in the recent Ontario election. The Quebec government pays up to three rounds of invitro treatments and stipulates that only one embryo be planted per round, she said. One in six couples suffer from infertility problems, she said.
Hanck said the contest was very effective in increasing listenership for the radio station as well as creating awareness of fertility treatments. "The contest promoted awareness, it was the hottest thing that was going on. We've tried, but nothing raised awareness like this," she said. For Tracy Broad, the surprise announcement by the radio station was the perfect birthday present. "It's probably the best birthday I ever had in my life and a birthday I will remember for the rest of my life," said Broad, who celebrated her 30th birthday on Tuesday.
"It's been a rough couple of years, especially when you've been trying over and over and you're being told that there's nothing wrong and you can have kids. Yet, so many people around me are pregnant and they're having their own children. You watch other people's kids grow up and it's just something that I've wanted for a very long time, so it's been a very emotional year for me," said Broad, who was accompanied by her husband, Nathan, 28.
Nathan said he was "ecstatic" over the chance of becoming a father. "It's been a crazy couple of weeks since the contest started, we've been voting like crazy. All the support from our friends and family has kept us going," said Nathan. The Ottawa couple has been together four years and were married this summer.
Hot 89.9 morning co-host Josie Geuer said the station was satisfied by choosing the five couples. "We decided it was just the right thing to do, we couldn't see it ending any other way," said Geuer.
Article: 12th October 2011 www.ottawacitizen.com
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