In 2019 we brought you the amazing story of Samara who, at the age of 18, needed a hysterectomy to end years of pain she had suffered due to endometriosis. She desperately wanted to carry a baby so had a cycle of IVF and was blessed with baby Ailani. We are delighted to have caught up with Samara and discussed the topic of endometriosis and the devastating effect it can have on young lives.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis affects one in ten women and those assigned female at birth, and is caused when tissue similar to that in the lining of the womb, grows in other areas of the body. Symptoms vary from person to person but can include painful or heavy periods. It may also, according to Endometriosis UK, lead to infertility, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems.
Samara, a former patient of Wessex Fertility, has shared her experience of endometriosis to help raise awareness. At just 20 years old, Samara Wiltshire from Somerset had an hysterectomy to treat the agonising endometriosis that had blighted her life since the age of 14.
Samara endured years of pain and hospital appointments with doctors telling her she was too young for endometriosis. It was only when, aged 17, Samara collapsed and had emergency surgery that she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.
Despite being assured she was cured, she underwent further surgery after seeking a second opinion. This enabled her to undergo IVF at Wessex Fertility and fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, before needing to finally undergo a hysterectomy aged 20, to help get her life back.
Samara explains: “From the age of 14, after my periods started, I suffered with terrible pain, bleeding, lots of urine infections, extreme fatigue, and sickness with bouts of throwing up. I was frequently at the doctors who just put me on the pill and said I was too young to have endometriosis.
“In January 2017 I suddenly collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital where I had emergency surgery and was finally diagnosed with endometriosis. Despite the surgery and being assured that I was cured I continued to have lots of problems. I sought a second opinion and following an MRI scan, the consultant confirmed the endometriosis was everywhere.
“I underwent further surgery in January 2018 but continued to endure terrible pain. The doctors prescribed the coil and pain relief including injections. The endless hospital appointments and being bed bound were having a detrimental impact on my life. I lost a lot of friends as I couldn’t go out and socialise, and my education was put on hold. Endometriosis robbed me of my teenage years.
“Ever since learning I had endometriosis I understood that a hysterectomy could help treat it, but it was a massive shock and very hard to hear, at just 17 years old, especially as I had always been maternal and wanted to carry my own child. But I needed to get my quality of life back and with the support of my parents decided to first explore IVF.”
In October 2017, Samara attended a seminar at Wessex Fertility to discuss the possibility of having IVF with a donor sperm.
“I was very nervous about attending the seminar as I was about to turn 18 and I didn’t have a partner. The team at Wessex Fertility were absolutely amazing and provided so much information,” said Samara.
Following the seminar, Samara decided to book an initial consultation at the clinic, and attended along with her mother. Dr Sue Ingamells discussed with Samara her options and support available to help in making her decision. Samara said: “After having all the necessary tests done I decided to go ahead with having a baby with a donor sperm when I turned 18.” Samara was put in touch with the donor team. “I used the Wessex Fertility donor bank and found the whole process really easy and they were so helpful.”
In January 2018, Samara began a fresh cycle of IVF treatment and had 17 eggs collected. The eggs were injected with the donor sperm through a process called ICSI.
“I was left with three embryos and one really good one,” recalls Samara.
Continuing Samara said: “After the embryo transfer I had the two week wait. That was the longest two weeks of my life! I couldn’t believe it when the pregnancy test was positive. I took about six pregnancy tests just to make sure it was right!”
Nine months later Samara gave birth to a little girl, Ailani Regene, weighing 7lb 7oz, 11 days before her due date. “To hold Ailani in my arms for the first time was the most amazing feeling. After having quite a traumatic birth, it was a mixture of relief after going through the IVF and then carrying her for nine months, and total love,” remembers Samara.
In October 2020 Samara had her hysterectomy. Unfortunately, although the bleeding has stopped, Samara is still experiencing problems and further surgery is required to remove her ovary.
For more information on endometriosis visit https://endometriosis-uk.org/ or if you have fertility problems as a result of the condition please contact us and we would be happy to help.