Newcastle West couple speak of ‘miracle’ fertility treatment

Gerard Fitzgibbon


Gerard Fitzgibbon

A NEWCASTLE West couple who suffered four miscarriages miraculously conceived a baby girl after they underwent revolutionary fertility treatment in the UK.

A NEWCASTLE West couple who suffered four miscarriages miraculously conceived a baby girl after they underwent revolutionary fertility treatment in the UK.

Michael and Sharon Noonan welcomed baby Hannah Rose into the world on Mother’s Day this year after Sharon was treated for elevated natural killer (NK) cells in London.

The couple, who tragically suffered four miscarriages between 2006 and 2009, decided to try out the treatment after hearing the testimony of a woman who overcame a similar problem on RTE radio.

“A friend of mine heard a radio interview between Marian Finucane and a woman who had a number of miscarriages and who went to London for a test which identified that she had elevated NK cells”, Sharon said.

After carrying out research into the field, she travelled to the Lister Fertility Clinic in London and consulted with Dr Yau Thum, a specialist in reproductive immunology, who carried out a simple blood test.

The results found that Sharon had an elevated level of NK cells, which were killing off her foetus each time she became pregnant.

Following her consultation with Dr Thum, after Sharon became pregnant for a fifth time she received an intravenous blood product known as Intralipid, which is based on the first fat emulsion deemed safe for human use.

The treatment helped her maintain her pregnancy and, despite some kidney and liver problems, Sharon gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the Mid West Regional Maternity Hospital on Mother’s Day this year.

Their daughter, who weighed in at seven pounds three ounces, was named after both Sharon and Michael’s grandmothers.

The Noonan’s miraculous story has since featured in The Irish Times, and last Saturday she appeared on the Marian Finucane show to bring her journey full circle.

Sharon told the Limerick Leader this week that she and Michael want to share their story with other couples who may be enduring similar problems conceiving.

“The message I want to get out is, you can go and get this simple NK test done very easily.

“It’s inexpensive in the scheme of things.

“You hear about a lot of people who are being encouraged to go for IVF and want to try IVF, but sometimes it can be identified and treated thanks to this very inexpensive test.

“The test changed our lives. We’re so happy.”

Sharon said that she and her husband were enjoying every second of parenthood with Hannah, who is now almost six months old.

She said that she and Michael owed thanks to so many people who helped them complete their journey, from Dr Thum to the staff of the maternity hospital in Limerick.

“The staff in there were wonderful. When you get in there first it’s a bit crazy, but in the wards and the delivery room the level of care we received was incredible.”

NK cells are part of the body’s natural immune system that are used to fight infection. Blood tests used to identify their presence in pregnancy are currently not widely available in Ireland.

Reproductive immunology treatment is offered by a small number of clinics in Britain.