**Updated - now with a poll at the end of the post - pls participate in the poll**
I have a friend; a wonderful, wacky, clever, in-touch, out there, together, crazy friend who has been trying to conceive for several years. At this stage in her life, at her age, the odds of her conceiving with her own eggs are very, very low. As in less than 1%*.
She had been trying for several years when she went to a fertility specialist who told her, in no uncertain terms, that she would need a donor egg in order to conceive.
Being the type of person she is, she told him, in no uncertain terms, that she knows and accepts that she has very little chance of conceiving with her own eggs, but it a chance she is prepared to take, and she would like to go ahead with an IVF with her own eggs anyway.
He refused, she stormed out.
She carried on trying for a few attempts (with another doctor), which did not succeed and is now ready to move on.
So here is my question. Does the doctor have a duty to refuse treatment that is highly unlikely to succeed – as in less than 1%, or is up to the individual woman concerned to decide whether she is prepared to take that chance?
In the doctor’s defense – the odds of it working are extremely low, surely he has a professional obligation NOT to waste the patient’s time, his time and her (lots and lots) of money. Would he not be regarded as irresponsible on many levels for going ahead with IVF treatment?
In the patient’s defense – surely it is HER decision as to whether she wants to take her chances with the treatment. This is elective treatment, and she elects to do it. She is educated, she is fully aware of the facts involved, but she still wants to go ahead.
I am torn. I see this often in my line of work in the egg donor program. Women who are over 45, who are otherwise extremely healthy and fit, and would make great mothers, but whose chances are, statistically, extremely poor of an own egg IVF ever working. And yet they want to carry on trying, they NEED to carry on trying until THEY get to the point where they are ready to accept either moving on to donor eggs, or giving up trying all together.
On the one hand, I understand. It is a process; and you need to do it on your own time. If it takes 1, 2, or 10 attempts with your own eggs before you are ready to move on, then that is what it takes. That process of being emotionally and mentally ready to move on has nothing to do with statistics and everything to do with the individual’s own internal processing.
On the other hand, I see doctors treating 47 year olds with their own eggs, and I think – what a rip off! How can any doctor in their right mind take the patient’s money and raise their hopes when the chances are so very very slim. Surely that is immoral? How can you take that chance, offer that hope and take their money on a 1% chance?
And yet, is it the doctor’s decision to make?
I know lots of doctors, especially in America where stats are so important, refuse treatment on patients over 42. They are too scared to have the failures as it messes with their success rates.
But success rates aside, my question is this: Is the doctor right to refuse to treat a woman who chooses to have elective treatment like IVF, where the success rates are proven to be extremely poor, or is it the patients right to elect to go ahead with the treatment, knowing full well what the facts are.
Her money & her body vs his professional duty?
What do you think?
nasty comments that get personal, will get deleted.
Edited to add (based on your comments to date):
1. This is not an insurance issue, I don't think
2. There is no greater risk to the patient (other than the risk of miscarriage) than there would be with a donor egg IVF.
* For instance at 45, there is a one percent chance of getting pregnant at all and then at least a fifty percent chance of miscarrying.