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Wow - I cannot imagine how heart-wrenching it must be to be the writer OR the recipient of such a letter... My heart goes out to them. I too have stared down that horrible barrel, but fortunately for me, I had drawn a line at what lengths I was willing to go to, and refused to allow myself to cross that line. It all sounds so familiar and horribly heart-breaking!

Before I had the triplets I was driving to work, I had to take a detour as there were roadworks. The detour took me through a built up neighbourhood. A little baby (probably no more than 13/14 months) was walking in the street, inbetween the cars! Everyone was hooting and slaming on their breaks. The baby walked infront of my car - luckily I stopped in time. I got out and picked him up (I assume it was a boy as he had a blue babygrow on). For a second I actually considered taking him - I was so desperate for a baby. I thought if his parents are so careless and cannot look after him properly then why can't I take him home with me. Luckily I realized my thoughts were insane and desperate. I saw an open garage door and walked through it into a house - the parents were in their bedroom getting ready for work, the granny had opened the garage and interleading doors to let out their new puppy, she though the baby was with his mother. The mother started crying when I explained where I found her baby. I understand these peoples desperateness - I was there, I am sad for them. I was lucky with little "fertility effort" we are blessed with the girls.

Tertia - this stinks to me of a scam email, just like the ones from Nigeria.

It *does* stink of an email scam. But what moves me so much is Tertia's compassion and forgiveness, her willingness to think the best of the sender.

Don't mean to sound heartless, but this souunds like one of those Nigerin scam emails. I think you're being toyed with in the worst possible way. I hope that's not the case, but my instincts just went towards scam...sorry.

Dear Tertia,
I've been a lurker for weeks, but feel I should comment here.

I've been there - desperately wanting money for treatment. And the only person I had the balls to ask to help was my Mom. Never in my wildest times did I consider canvassing for financial support. Nevertheless, I do understand desperation.

This e-mail/blog entry however smacks of something fishy. I don't know why I feel like this about it, I just do. Maybe because it wasn't just a single e-mail....but several as well as blog entries......I don't know.

Tertia, I am very close to that edge and I understand desperation but this is definitely a scam. Please don't fall for it, especially being so close to your transfer. You do not need this kind of images in your mind; just breathe and let go...

I have to agree with the other commenters. This sounds like an email scam. They're obviously familiar with your story, perhaps having read your book, and they are appealing to a very vulnerable part of yourself. Don't fall for it. Be compassionate, because that's what you are, but please investigate this further if you (or anyone else) intends to give money.

i vote for the 419 scam.

Another vote for scam. Sorry it was a scam that jabbed your heart that way. Horrible.

Nobody posts their bank info in a mass email. There are lots of on-line mechanisms for setting up a payment center that don't invite someone to clean you out financially. That's what smells like a scam.

Ouch yes. You have to be pretty desperate to send out an email like that, be it scam or not. You'll be interested in this article too: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6767851.stm. I found it on coming2terms.com and though I don't condone what the man did, I totally understand where he comes from!

Tertia, firslty it makes me sad to think how much pain you have to relive when reading those emails.

I am usually quite cynical, but it actually didn't occur to me that it could be a scam until I read the other comments here. I feel so sorry for people who (health wise) would be good candidates for IVF, and I wish that there was some form of financial assistance available for such couples in SA.

I did actually google them, and in a very similar post on 24.com blogs they actually provide the name and clinic details of their doctor with a request to pay the money directly to the clinic. (The clinic and the Doctor look to be legit).....My intention is NOT to feed this, in case it does in fact prove to be a scam, but to me it just seemed like a couple who are desperate to have a child, and are in a situation where the primary obstacle is financial.

I must say that, if I was in a position to contribute financially, I would. (Not an option as my hubby is currently unemployed). I would however take the time to phone the clinic and doctor involved, and would make a donation with the understanding that if it was not used for this couple (ie if they failed to raise the balance, stopped trying or whatever) that the money would be passed on to Bosom Buddies.

I can't imagine anything more rewarding that to be able to help a childless couple attain their dream of parenthood. I would definately donate my eggs if I could, but upon enquiry was told I was not a suitable donor due to a lack of medical history (I'm adopted), and the fact that I have an auto-immune disease.

What came to my mind was not "SCAM" but rather what does "desperate" really mean.

When I see elderly domestic workers in Pick and Pay standing at the bread counter clutching their hanky in hand and counting out the browns to see whether they can afford one loaf or two - that's when I get tears in my eyes and think wow; driving around in an SUV; taking weekend trips away and even just the choice of instant or take-out food we eat (and chuck out!) - what do we REALLY know about desperate.

We complain about crime but what do we REALLY know about desperatation for food or other basics for your children. And yet the number of poor people who resort to desperate means TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN is relatively few. I don't think many of us who use this site have much of an idea of the relativity of what "desperate" means. All respect to those who long desperately for a child, but I have to say that it's a case of perspective and priority when it comes to what we would resort to and why.

GOOD EVENING TERTIA

ME AND MY WIFE ARE SITTING HERE IN DISBELIEVE. WHY ARE PEOPLE SO NASTY? IN A WAY WE CAN UNDERSTAND, BUT STILL IT REALLY HURTS! THANK YOU FOR THE FEW THAT UNDERSTANDS OUR PAIN. WE ARE JUST DESPERATE, WE CAN SAVE EVERY MONTH BUT HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET TO R 20 000.00 OR WHATEVER THE COST IS. WE ARE NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER. (36)

YOU LIVE IN CAPE TOWN, YOU KNOW THE PEOPLE. THE LAST THING WE WANT TO DO IS TO HURT YOU, BUT YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE HAVE BEEN AND WHAT WE WENT TROUGH.

PHONE DR. LEON VENTER AT PANORAMA MEDI-CLINIC, PHONE DR. IGNO SIEBERT AT VINCENT PALLOTTI, ASK THEM ABOUT US. ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, WE DON`T CARE SO DESPERATE WE ARE.

GIVE US ADVISE PLEASE. THERE ISN`T MUCH WRONG WITH ME OR MY WIFE, WE JUST CAN`T GET PREGNANT NORMALLY. UNEXPLAINEBLE?

THANK YOU FOR READING AND LISTENING.
REGARDS, BERTO AND MARLINDA VD WESTHUIZEN

Berto and Marlinda, my heart breaks for you both. I hope you can both find a resolution and peace. I know your desperation all too well.

Tertia, I will be thinking of you tomorrow, sweetie, and holding thumbs.

this is cruel emotional blackmail, regardless of the desperation.

I would be wary about this, Tertia. You have become a public figure and with that comes the unwanted attention that it brings. Even if they are genuine (which I am dubious about) they are using your obvious weakness to get what they want. They know which strings to pull and how to make you feel like you should help them. I agree with 'ns' - this is emotional blackmail.

Sometimes you have to ask yourself: how much is expected of me? You already have done so much for so many people. You even give speeches which you hate giving! All becaue you know how much it means to people. If you help (or fall for the scam) where will it end? There are thousands of peole who don't have the funds for medical procedures. You can't help everyone.

I might sound harsh but I would hate to see someone I admire and care for (strange as it might seem - I have never met you!) taken for a ride or hurt. Please be wary about these people.

Even though I am often a rather cynical person, I think that this is real and not a hoax. I reckon Conrad's parents are trying to target a specific group of people, i.e. people who have gone through infertility and who are most likely able to relate to their problem. The fact that they are obviously following this discussion shows me that they were more or less counting on Tertia to make their problem public.

This being said, they must be either very desperate indeed or else have a lot of chuzpe to mail something like that to Tertia, knowing full well a) what she's been through with Luke and Ben & b) that she's currently having problems with depressions and similar stuff.

I really don't know what to make of that kind of behaviour. Their son apparently died in December 2004. It's June 2007 now, another two and a half years from then. While I do understand that the death of a child can never be forgotten or even dealt with compeltely, it astounds me that this amount of time has not sufficed for the parents to become at least a little bit more considerate as to the selection of their potential targets...

"this is cruel emotional blackmail, regardless of the desperation."

"it astounds me that this amount of time has not sufficed for the parents to become at least a little bit more considerate as to the selection of their potential targets..."

Clearly, you haven't been there. You don't know fuck-all, and I say that with kindness.

I have. Not with infertility, but with a sick and damaged child. There is nothing I wouldn't have done or sold, no one I wouldn't have begged or blackmailed, to make my child better and prevent his suffering.

Nothing. No one.

God bless them. I hope they get their child, somehow. I wouldn't contribute to anything or anyone without checking it out carefully, and no one should. But really, why assume the worst? Because then you don't have to acknowledge their pain?

The desperation I can understand. I've been through that desperation - and the same situation as artemisia with a very sick disabled child. But I think continuing to send you these emails is cruel. Sending photos of their son when they know what you've been through. It's not right, I'm sorry. I hope this couple can have a child, I want it to work out for them. But I am disturbed at what they are doing to you and others.

Berto and Merlinda, I hope your dreams will come true, somehow, some way, sometime very soon.

Perhaps the VD Westhuizens are aware that Tertia has in the past asked her blog pals for monetary donations (ie for her friend's house/for Bosom Buddies) and seen the phenomenal and generous response from her readers. I can imagine they thought perhaps she would help them as she has done others and also that she would understand the desperation they must be feeling to ask a virtual stranger for financial help. Would the tone of responses have been so different if Tertia had met this couple at her recent Jewish conference/other social get together that she now attends due to her heightened profile?

I imagine they thought who better to ask as she *has* been through all this and absolutely does understand their despair. In fact Tertia herself has written that she has felt this desperation herself and that that fact is the most disturbing about this email. Her direct quote is:

"No, the thing that disturbs me more than any of that, is that I recognize that smell. It is the smell of sheer desperation. It turns my stomach because it is so cloyingly familiar."

I think we all agree that at this time Tertia doesn't need to be reminded of those awful times and feelings, however if the couple are genuine (and I'm sure anyone could verify this as they have given details above who to ring and where) and not a scam then surely they deserve our sympathy and best wishes?

(One other thing, Tertia said that yesterday was the third time she had received this email, we don't know when she received the first two so they may have sent them before Tertia entered into this worrying time with her FET...)

Berto and Marlinda - I am very sorry that you find yourself in this situation. I hope that somehow, somewhere you can find what you are looking for or need in order to feel complete/at peace/at ease physically, mentally and financially.

I haven't read all the comments in detail, but my immediate thought on reading this entry was that, whilst I have every sympathy for a couple who cannot afford IVF treatment, there are just too many other far more worthwhile causes for charity. Most especially in South Africa. Sorry to be harsh, but that is my opinion.

Meredith, ditto. Infertiles don't have the market cornered on suffering or heartbreak. Lots of sadness in this old world.

Hi Tertia. I think about this a lot. We have had to take out extra on our new home loan to pay for our IVF, but at least we have been able to do that. I feel so deeply for those who may not be badly off financially, but just don't have that 30 odd thousand lying around off hand.
I was actually thinking of the idea of the clinics doing their bit, and maybe starting an Infertility Lottery of sorts. I know it sounds sordid, but it would help a lot of people like this who don't have the funds. What do you think? There could be criteria for entering, to ensure that the treatment goes to those who truly need it but don't have the bucks.

I am surprised that there are people who read this blog that do not understand the despair of infertility. I have certainly never experienced anything else like it. There is nothing that I wouldn't sacrifice for a baby.

I read recently that one in five infertiles have thought about suicide. I'd imagine the figure would be higher only for the fact that the one sure way of not getting a baby is to kill yourself.

Berto and Marlinda - I hope that one day your dreams come true.

Tertia - thinking of you today.

I can understand their desperation. My prayer is that a miracle happens for them. I am one of the most practical, rational people I know and I have also had thoughts of just taking babies flash through my mind and after that split-second, think "what on earth am I thinking? I'm going crazy." So an infertile person is really not in the best frame of mind to think logically.

To some of us, we can see that this may not have been the best way to go about fund-raising, but when you're desperate....

I often think, what if I was not in a position to pay for a couple of IVFs? Yes, IVF is cheaper here than it is in the rest of the world but remember we earn less too. If you convert to US$ it is dirt cheap but it is still a lot of money for most of us. We have some extra money in our bond - probably enough for 2 - but will carry on saving every month. We save a big % of our income every month (hence the additional monies in bond) and STILL it would take about 9 - 10 months per treatment if we just depended on that.

As it is, we have drawn the line in the sand because I will absolutely not borrow money for this.

All that to say, I really do hope this couple manages to find a way and keep their sanity intact.

"Clearly, you haven't been there. You don't know fuck-all"

You're right, artemisa. I don't know what it's like. I naturally conceived my healthy daughter at the age of 35 and had the second child (a son) at 37 in October '06. And I can't tell you how grateful I am for that. I know it's one of the greatest gifts nature could ever have given me. I'm sterilized now. Chapter successfully closed.

Nevertheless this couple - no matter how desperate they are - will have to live with criticism as to the way they go about fundraising. Besides, there's not much point in sort of biting the hand that might feed you by sending out such letters _plus_ a photograph of their son with tubes and all, to Tertia of all people. Bad strategy. Very bad strategy. Clearly, these people know Tertia. So if they had written her an individual mail, taking into account her own state of mind right now, that would have been another matter, in my opinion.

But simply bunging Tertia's addy into some mass mail three times in a row _and_ adding that kind of photograph - that really takes the cake. That's the reason why this time, for a change, I would immediately dismiss the idea of contributing, even if Tertia did set up one of those PayPal collections (which she can't do on her own anyhow, as far as I remember).

Feebee, I found this blog through IVF Connections and by that you can assume that I have experienced infertility - and in fact am one of the majority for whom it does not work, despite multiple attempts.

Tertia, you have enough sychophants on this blog and I'm sure you're more than capable of handling a bit of constructive criticism. You have obviously become a voice in your own country. It's a huge responsibility. You're going to get these sorts of requests more and more often, I would imagine. You should not stoop to what amounts to emotional blackmail of the worst kind (even though I do believe the people involved do not see it in that light).

Because I cannot help but see the irony in a white, relatively affluent couple (compared to 90% of the population) thinking it is OK to beg for money for IVF, when there are millions of babies needing good homes in Africa. HOWEVER, I'm not saying everyone should adopt. It's not on a par with having your own child. And by that, I don't mean better or worse, just different. A hugely different set of priorities and responsibilities. And if you're not up to the unique challenges of raising someone else's child, particularly a child who was born into extreme poverty, then you plain shouldn't do it. Which is why we're not doing it. But we sure as hell are sponsoring a child in Africa, and we plan to sponsor more.

I suppose you could say that I shouldn't judge because I am lucky enough to live in a country (Australia) where IVF is subsidised by the government. IVF is therefore still affordable to most people (but of course still out of reach for those who just cannot manage the $2000-odd gap).

But these are the thoughts that always kept me "honest" whilst struggling with my own infertility. "It's life. Deal. You are not going to die from not having a child. You have your health, and compared to most of the world's population, you are rich beyond imagining. You are so, so lucky."

And Jeanne, thanks for being (I think, pretty much?) a lone voice in the wilderness. I'm a bit shocked that not more South Africans commented on that.

I've "been there". With that said, I think what this couple is doing is at best tacky. At worst it is emotional blackmail.

Meredith, may I remind you that people who read this blog have helped raised a quite considerable amount of money to pay for a brest reduction?

My first thought was how do you know it's not a scam to get money?

Belen - yes I am aware. It was before I started reading this blog though, and I am assuming there were more reasons than just cosmetic for doing it?

South Africa is one of those places with lots of haves - but lots more have nots. Tertia does try and raise awareness from time to time, and I applaud her for that. She is in a very powerful position with this many readers. Therefore she is targetted with all sorts of requests for money and help, I am sure. I just don't think giving space to this sort of request was such a good idea. Even though it wasn't as a charity drive, more of a reflection on how desperate people can be. But I found it distasteful.

We are lucky enough to live in the first world have very different sorts of problems, and infertility is one of those problems. If you're just trying to survive from day to day, keep food in your mouth and a roof over your head, infertility is just an issue.

Sorry, I meant infertility is NOT an issue in this last line.

very sad t... i could not imagine the pain of being in this situation...

Tertia, if this is real (which I can't judge) then it's very sad. I know the smell of desperation, too. One of the reasons Sarge and I did not do IVF was because we could not afford it. Our adoption costs are being paid through various funds which is the only reason we'll ever have kids.

That being said, i echo the others in stating that you have become a national voice and as such, you will be recieving more and more of these requests. Lots of them will be legit and some of them will not. Regardless of that status, though, you can't act a clearing house for every person who asks you for money. It'll overwhelm your blog and your personal ability. You'll get bound up in guilt for those you can't help because you don't have the resources. And most importantly, you'll wear out the fundraising welcome with your readers and the money will stop anyway.

My assvice (as someone who'se fundraised a bunch) is to do one or both of these things: stick with the charities you've got: Bosom Buddies, etc. Or establish a charitable fund in your name (or Ben's or Adam and Kate's or Marko's) to which you can defer these requests. Make it a legal charity to avoid heavy tax penalties and develop an application process. Stick to the application process. That way you can fundraise outside the blogging circle and offer help on a broader plane.

Sorry that was so lengthy. I just don't want to see you get burned. I know you like to rescue people (me too) and that can lead you into deeper water than you are reckoning.

Tertia, god bless you for being so empathetic... I don't think i could under the circumstances.

GOOD MORNING TERTIA:
IT IS SUNDAY, 24 JUNE 2007, IT IS A BEAUTIFUL RAINY DAY.
I HOPE EVERYTHING WORKS OUT FOR YOU. I THINK I WILL NOT WRITE TO YOU ANYMORE BECAUSE OF ALL THE BAD THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID.

THANK YOU FOR THOSE WHO SUPPORT ME.

THE REST OF YOU, FUCK YOU AND GO TO HELL.

nice! I think they just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what kind of people they are.

BERTO AND MARLINDA -

I'm betting one billion dollars that you are a Nigerian man in an internet cafe. Don't doubt for a minute, Tertia, that these people have seen you raising money for worthy causes and are hoping to "get in on the gravy train."

I think it's AWFUL that someone would take a picture of someone else's baby off of the internet to exploit your very real pain, in hopes that you, in your enormous heart, will write a post encouraging everyone to donate.

That is an octagon with 8 sides of SICK.

I am posting anonymously (you can tell who this is from my IP, Tertia), but I smell a very large rat.

It drives me nuts that hurting people will believe this and give their hard-earned money when many of them have yet to become parents themselves. The whole letter is the same format as a Nigerian scam. All in caps, give me your bank information, go to hell when you tell me you won't give me money.

Beware of this, people. PLEASE.

Thinking of you in the 2WW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tertia,

If you would like to check with their clinic and doctors, afer your 2ww is over, and set up a Pay Pal account to benefit them I would send a donation. To those of you who have never been infertile but are judging anyway, shame on you. There are always others out there worse off. It doesn't make our pain any less.

I am not an infertile, and I don't know what it's like. I do know, having friends going through it, that it is HELL sitting month after month with a white pregnancy test while you see the 17 year old down the street with 2 kids and every friend you know getting pregnant at the drop of a hat.

Still, even if this letter were legit (Which it is SO not), it plays on the emotions of those of you who are scarred and bruised from the battle that is infertility.

And I think that really, really sucks.

Conrad. Next time you go fishing for money for whatever reason have a little class about it. I realize you may (or may not be) very desperate to have a child but there are certain societal niceties. Begging for help via a dead child to a woman who has had one is NOT the way. I feel badly for your pain and hope the future brings you the baby you so desire. In the meantime GO AWAY! Tertia too nice to say but I am apparently not!

wow I too am here from IVFC, thought to read for myself and make up my own mind so to speak.

I was feeling bad and while I'm sitting here waiting for attempt #10 to go belly up felt that I could at a pinch help someone so desperate they would reach out to someone anyone for help.

UNTIL I read the last post by Conrad. that nailed it Conrad may be hurting but so are so many others. I think I'll do as he suggests and fuck off, sadly I can't go to hell I'm already living it.

Usually a lurker, but had to comment... SCAM!!

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