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Not everyone will get a quarantine baby, says St. John’s couple

Ledon Wellon posted this photo on Facebook, with a call to the provincial government to bring in vitro fertilization to Newfoundland and Labrador. -CONTRIBUTED
Ledon Wellon posted this photo on Facebook and Instagram, with a call to the provincial government to bring in vitro fertilization to Newfoundland and Labrador. — Contributed

Pandemic-related suspension of Eastern Health's IVF support services ‘devastating’ for couple



MOUNT PEARL — For many people struggling with infertility, trying to conceive a child involves timely access to specialists and treatments — and often, not a lot of time. Any delay to that access could mean no conception at all.

St. John’s hairstylist Ledon Wellon and her partner, Trevor, have been trying to conceive for four years.

The couple, who live in Mount Pearl, spent roughly $22,000 for in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Calgary in March shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Canada.

They had to travel to access the service because it’s not available in Newfoundland and Labrador. The procedure is available in every other province except Prince Edward Island.

Access and affordability of the treatments also vary drastically across the country. In Ontario, provincial health care covers one IVF treatment for all female patients under age 43 who need it. New Brunswick offers a $5,000 grant to help with the costs.


Quarantine is (hopefully) almost over. Can we stop with the jokes now? Covid-19 is preventing so many of us from continuing our fertility treatments. I understand that the clinics needed to be closed at first. I know it was a necessary evil. What I don't understand is how the government think that hair salons, spas and restaurants should be open before extremely time sensitive treatments are allowed to continue. (I'm a hairstylist and am also eager to get back to work, but the order of opening is frustrating.) I'm frustrated for all of the people who got cancelled mid cycle and can't get their money back that they've spent on medication. I'm frustrated for the people who were mentally prepared to start a new IVF cycle and were cancelled last minute. I'm frustrated for people like myself. I was fortunate to not be cancelled through my cycle, but it failed and I am ready to go back for a frozen transfer. Time is not on my side and I'm eager to return. I'm frustrated at our government for allowing us to be forgotten. We want a child and it's not our fault we just can't have a quarantine baby. We have to pay, mentally, physically and with dollars we don't have. Now we have to wait, until who-knows-when to start up again. I want to do a frozen transfer as soon as possible, but I can't travel to Calgary where I need to be for IVF. I can't have a baseline ultrasound at our clinic because they're still not allowed to open. This opens up a whole other problem with Newfoundland's healthcare. IVF should be available here. We have the qualified doctors, we just don't have the government support. It's unacceptable that not only do we have to pay for our treatment that should be free with MCP, we also have to travel out of province for an entire month on our own dime. @govnlsocial This is a big issue that needs resolving. Not just for Covid-19 issues, but for infertile people across NL. We shouldn't have to travel for IVF. We shouldn't have to pay for IVF. And we definitely shouldn't have to do both for a chance at a child. @cbcnl

A post shared by Ledon and Trevor Wellon (@ledon.and.trevor.ivf) on


Newfoundland and Labrador offers no financial assistance for IVF, but does offer pre- and post-IVF supports at Eastern Health’s fertility clinic. This province also does not provide financial assistance to couples who travel out of the province to obtain fertility services.

The fertility clinic in St. John’s offers other fertility services, such as donor insemination and ovulation induction, but for couples such as the Wellons, IVF is what’s needed.

Services suspended

While IVF access was already far more limited in this province, it has become more pronounced with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fertility services at Eastern Health’s Major’s Path Clinic are suspended and will be rebooked at a later date, according to an email to The Telegram from Eastern Health.

“Planning is ongoing for the resumption of fertility services and will be communicated with patients once we are in a position to gradually and safely begin to resume these services.

“Eastern Health empathizes with all patients and families whose appointments and procedures have been cancelled in all program areas across the organization.”

During Wednesday’s briefing, Health Minister Dr. John Haggie said it’s his understanding that those services will remain suspended until the public health emergency is cleared up. He said it’s his understanding this is the same for fertility facilities outside the province.

“I'm furious at his statement,” Wellon told The Telegram after the briefing.


I'm mad. I'm devastated. I feel forgotten and unheard by my own government. Yesterday a reporter asked about the reopening of our Fertility clinic here in St.John's, Newfoundland. Dr. John Haggie couldn't give an answer. He falsely claimed that no other clinics in Canada were opened. A claim that is blatantly untrue. A claim that is jeopardizing the future of so many Newfoundlanders. Our minister of health said "my understanding is that the Fertility clinic has suspended operations until the pandemic of state of emergency is over." WHY? Why is it okay for me to get my nails done but I can't meet with a fertility specialist. Why is it okay for me to get a tattoo but not an ultrasound. Why is it okay for me to go into a restaurant and pick up dinner but I can't have access to an IUI. Why does our government prioritize these non essential services over the reproductive needs of our population. You constantly ask how to get our dwindling population higher yet you ignore the desperate pleas of infertile Newfoundlanders. You're jeopardizing my future with your misinformed decisions and I'm furious about it. . . . @drjohnhaggie @premierofnl @cbcnl @govnlsocial @ntvnewsnl @the_telegram @justinpjtrudeau #yyt #ivf #ivfwarrior #infertility #facesoffertility #newfoundland #reproductiverights #ivfcommunity #ivfgotthis #ivfstrong #infertilitysupport #ttcafterloss #ttc #miscarriage #miscarriageawareness #infertilityawareness #endometriosis #1in8 #1in4 #fertility #infertilityjourney #iam1in8 #iam1in4 #ivfjourney #ivfsupport #infertile #trevorandledon #highfsh #thisisinfertility #endowarrior @ledonnn @tfwellon

A post shared by Ledon and Trevor Wellon (@ledon.and.trevor.ivf) on


Her first cycle of IVF was unsuccessful. If she were living in Calgary, she’d be able to go back for another cycle.

The clinic where she has six frozen embryos waiting — the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary — began a limited reopening for fertility treatments May 4.

She said the clinic contacted her to see if she’d like to start another cycle this month with one of her frozen embryos, but she wasn’t able to say yes because the clinic in St. John’s where she would get pre-IVF care is still closed.

“There is no end in sight for the closure, or suspension of treatment, for thousands of Newfoundlanders,” she said.


Couples are allowed to exhaust all options for a biological kid. Some people want to adopt, and that's awesome. Some people never want to, and that's cool too. . "There are so many children who need homes. You should give them a chance instead of IVF." Yet, the people who say this have biological children. If they are so concerned about these kids, they could have also adopted them. Adoptable children are not reserved for the infertile. It is also not the responsibility of infertile couples to make sure all of the children get adopted. I think adoption is amazing. I also know that it is not for everyone. It's a long hard road. It's expensive. It's sometimes decade long wait lists. It's an emotional journey that isn't to be taken lightly. . . . #niaw #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #ciaw2020 #icsi #ivf #ivfwarrior #infertility #ivfcommunity #ivfgotthis #ivfstrong #infertilitysupport #ttcafterloss #ttc #miscarriage #miscarriageawareness #infertilityawareness #endometriosis #fertility #infertilityjourney #iam1in8 #iam1in4 #ivfjourney #ivfsupport #infertile #trevorandledon #highfsh #thisisinfertility #endowarrior @ledonnn @tfwellon

A post shared by Ledon and Trevor Wellon (@ledon.and.trevor.ivf) on


‘More important to get your roots done’

Wellon has premature ovarian failure. She explained that this means even though she’s 30 years old, she has the same amount of time left to get pregnant as a 45-year-old.

“By not being able to access this now, we might lose our entire lifetime to be able to have children if we can’t have it in the next year. So, by not having access right now, you can take away someone’s chance to have a child for the rest of their life, which is so devastating.”

As a hairstylist, Wellon questions the timelines of what’s allowed to open, and what’s not, with the various alert levels. While she said she’s eager to get back to work, she doesn’t understand why hair appointments would be permitted before time-sensitive fertility treatments.

“It’s frustrating to know that they think it’s more important to get your roots done than to try to bring a child into the world when it’s so time-restrictive for so many people. It’s not like people who postpone an IVF treatment can still get it done next year necessarily.”



In a province with a higher death rate than birth rate, Wellon wonders why the provincial government wouldn’t offer IVF here if only as a way to increase the population.

“There’s so many people who are dealing with infertility issues that if you just help us have access to the treatments we need, your population could grow. There’s so many people who just can’t afford $25,000.”

In fact, Wellon said she was only able to access the treatment because three of her clients fundraised $12,000 to help with the costs.

“They took it upon themselves to start the fundraisers, and then told me about it because they said it’s not fair that your ability to have a child should be based on how much money you have in the bank.”


People often think that IVF is a sure thing. Every time I told someone that we were going to start IVF, they would tell me that everyone they knew who did IVF had a baby from it. This is why people don't tell you they're going before. This feeling of loss, failure and utter heartbreak.💔 People often open up about their infertility struggles after they've had success. When they no longer have to listen to everyone's uneducated and ignorant "advice" on what to do. It's so hard to constantly have people tell you what they think will work. Believe me. An infertile person has tried whatever you're about to recommend.😒 People who get negative result after negative result often suffer in silence. I decided to document our journey to show people dealing with infertility that they're not alone. To show those lucky enough to not have to struggle for their children how hard this is. To show what people will go though to get what they so desperately yearn for. I didn't think that I would be the person to show you that you can do everything in your power and suffer for so long only to be left with another loss.💔 This last month have been exhausting. Physically and mentally.🤕 I knew it would be hard but no one can prepare you for the toll it takes on you emotionally. I know we have 6 other embryos frozen. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️ I know we have a few more chances, and I'm incredibly grateful for that.❤️ It doesn't make this loss feel any better. 💔 It was still a baby. It was still OUR baby. Let us mourn. . . . #ivffail #failedivf #icsi #ivf #ivfwarrior #infertility #ivfprocess #ivfmedication #ivfgotthis #ivfstrong #infertilitysupport #ttcafterloss #ttc #miscarriage #miscarriageawareness #infertilityawareness #endometriosis #1in8 #1in4 #fertility #infertilityjourney #iam1in8 #iam1in4 #ivfjourney #ivfsupport #infertile #trevorandledon #highfsh #thisisinfertility #endowarrior @ledonnn @tfwellon

A post shared by Ledon and Trevor Wellon (@ledon.and.trevor.ivf) on


No response from politicians

Wellon said she knows about 10 people personally whose IVF has either been postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic.

A Facebook post she made highlighting the issue has nearly 400 shares. In it, she called on the government to resolve the issue.

“IVF should be available here. We have the qualified doctors, we just don't have the government support.”


"We have the qualified doctors, we just don't have the government support.” — Ledon Wellon


Wellon told The Telegram that in the past few elections, she has contacted candidates to ask what they think about trying to bring IVF to the province.

“I’ve never, ever got a response. I’ve probably sent it out to 10 different individuals, and I’ve never heard anything back. Even just an opinion on what we could do, or what they think.

“So, I feel like there are so many other issues that are kind of pushed down, but this is seen as a young woman’s issue, which doesn’t, I guess, appeal to people from a government standpoint to get people to vote for you. So, I’ve never really felt heard by anyone who could actually make a change.”

UPDATE: 

On Friday, May 22 - one day after this story was published - Haggie addressed the issue during the daily provincial briefing. He was asked why fertility services will not be available when people can get their hair done. 

“It’s a difficult situation, I appreciate that,” he said. 

“In actual fact, there’s only one clinic that I’m aware of that is open - and that is partially open - and it’s in Calgary. Halifax is still closed, and the Ontario clinics that I am aware of are closed. As I say, these are all private facilities. 

“The Newfoundland and Labrador fertility service is supported by Eastern Health, and has been providing a limited range of services throughout COVID, in actual fact, according to information I have supplied from Eastern Health as of this morning. So, again, that goes back to the clinical decision as to what is time sensitive from the point of view of treatment, and that’s a clinical decision. 

“So, obviously I have no control of, and very little insight into, what goes on in other jurisdictions, but we have an expansion plan, a resumption of normal. Eastern Health have discussions with the clinic about when they’re going to expand the range of services that they’ve already been providing, and I would imagine that they would be making some announcements about that over the course of the next week or so.”

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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