Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Cricketer opens up on IVF struggle

Former Black Caps crowd favourite Chris Harris and his wife Linda have spoken out about their struggles with infertility. Photo / Warren Buckland
Former Black Caps crowd favourite Chris Harris and his wife Linda have spoken out about their struggles with infertility. Photo / Warren Buckland

Former Black Caps crowd favourite Chris Harris and his wife Linda have spoken out about their struggles with infertility.

When Linda Farrell met Chris, now 46, he'd only just made the New Zealand team. They married but wanted to wait until his hectic touring days were over before trying for children. However, Chris went on to enjoy a long, successful career, playing 250 One Day Internationals.

"I never thought it would be so long," Linda said ahead of Fertility Week, which begins on Monday.

They had daughter Sophie naturally in 2001 but struggled to conceive a second child. Harris was often away on international cricket duties and they put it down to his busy schedule. But when they were living together in the UK and Linda still didn't get pregnant, she became worried.

"I was aware I was approaching 40 and while Chris was pretty relaxed about it, I felt we needed to make contact with a fertility specialist."

They tried several options to "help things along" but nothing worked. A few years later, blood tests in the UK returned very low fertility.

"I panicked," Linda said.

They started In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment which they juggled with Chris' cricket commitments. After the sixth unsuccessful cycle, doctors suggested trying two eggs to increase their chances.

"Fortunately we were very lucky that they both took and we ended up with two little miracles," said Linda, 50.

Chris Harris and his wife, Linda Farrell, now have twins Louie and Phoebe, born through IVF, and their big sister, Sophie. Photo / Supplied
Chris Harris and his wife, Linda Farrell, now have twins Louie and Phoebe, born through IVF, and their big sister, Sophie. Photo / Supplied

Twins Phoebe and Louie arrived on October 16, 2009. Now, the Harris household is a "lovely, boisterous" one.

The Christchurch couple will speak at a public Fertility Week event in Christchurch on Tuesday to share their story.

"It's amazing how much emotion talking about this stirs up again," Linda said. "At the time, it was an awful lot to go through. And the most invaluable thing I found was talking to people who'd been through it. So I hope that by talking about it, we can help someone else out there."

Experts estimate that 30 per cent of infertility is "male factor", 30 per cent is female factor, with another 30 per cent attributed to both men and women, while 10 per cent is unexplained.

Christchurch gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Janene Brown said advancing age, along with obesity, and other pathological conditions affecting male and female organs, were the major factors for infertility, which now affects one in four Kiwis.

Dr Brown urged people to lead healthy lifestyles, not leave thoughts of having a family too late, and if anyone is having issues or struggling to fall pregnant, to seek help.

She said fertility awareness and checks were key.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 11 Dec 2016 11:35:31 Processing Time: 646ms