Sandra Crashley claims IVF pioneer Patrick Steptoe experimented on her and without consent "took half of my ovaries".

Mrs Crashley believes the procedures shocked her into early menopause, rapid ageing and left her almost permanently confined to a wheelchair.

The health consequences have plagued the remainder of her life, the Bay of Plenty resident claims. They form the basis of her new book, The Testimony of an IVF Guinea Pig.

British-born Mrs Crashley was living near Manchester as a young woman in 1970. She was suffering menstrual pain and says Mr Steptoe recommended dilation and curettage.


"I think his attitude was experimental," she said. "I nearly died."

Mrs Crashley claims she remained in hospital for a month, and a year later sought advice from another specialist as she could not stand up. The second specialist had to remove her uterus.

Only then did she discover that Mr Steptoe had stitched through her colon, stitched her bladder to her uterus and "taken half of my ovaries", she alleges.

Mr Steptoe died in 1988.

Mrs Crashley wrote an electronic version of her book in 2010 after the death of Lesley Brown, the first woman to give birth after IVF treatment from Mr Steptoe in 1978.

Ms Brown had many health problems in later years "just like me", Mrs Crashley said.

She believes she, Ms Brown and the IVF treatment patients she met in Oldham Hospital were treated like guinea pigs.

Mr Steptoe has been lauded for the his work in developing IVF, despite some criticism in medical circles. As he said himself, "most ethical disagreements have been vaporised by the pragmatism of 1,000,000 IVF babies".

Mrs Crashley's book, published by Lovely Books of Gisborne, includes a preface by Susan Bewley, Professor of Complex Obstetrics at Kings College, London.

Professor Bewley writes that Mrs Crashley's "compelling story" happened in an era of deference when research ethics committees did not yet exist.

Mrs Crashley said that even today, IVF results in birth in only 20 per cent of cases. The media spotlight only shone on success stories or extreme cases like the 70-year-old woman in India giving birth for the first time.

She said she had been contacted by many women since the publication of her e-book.

"They have been let down by IVF. They haven't got a baby. They have lost all hope."

She has become part of an international network of women concerned by what they see as IVF abuse.

"I am their grandmother."

Mrs Crashley, who lives in Opotiki with husband Mike, will soon travel to England on a speaking tour, including an engagement at Kings College, Cambridge.