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Crohn's woman loses eggs cash bid
A Crohn's disease sufferer has lost a High Court challenge against what she claims is an "unlawful" decision to refuse her funding for her eggs to be frozen before she undergoes chemotherapy.
Mr Justice Jay, sitting in London, dismissed a judicial review action brought by Elizabeth Rose, 25, from Margate, Kent, who fears that the "imminent" bone marrow transplantation and chemotherapy treatment she faces will render her infertile.
Clinicians at King's College Hospital in south east London applied on her behalf for funding so her eggs could be frozen before she undergoes the chemotherapy.
But Miss Rose took legal action over a "continuing refusal" by Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide NHS-funded fertility preservation treatment.
The Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design fine art graduate believes she is the victim of a "postcode lottery" as the treatment is available to single women in other parts of the country.
Her case was contested by Thanet CCG, which argued that its refusal is lawful.
Mr Justice Jay said Miss Rose had suffered from a severe form of Crohn's disease since she was 14.
Her condition has deteriorated and doctors at King's College Hospital are recommending that she undergo bone marrow transplantation and chemotherapy "with the expectation of bringing the disease into remission".
He said: "Unfortunately, it is a probable outcome of this gonadotoxic therapy that the claimant will be rendered infertile and suffer early onset of the menopause.
"Understandably, the claimant wishes to secure the best chance of having her own genetic children, and she therefore seeks NHS funding for oocyte cryopreservation before the chemotherapy begins."
He said her application for funding had been refused on more than one occasion, giving rise to the application for judicial review.
Miss Rose is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and Income Support. She previously worked in an art gallery before her condition deteriorated and is "in no position to afford the sum of £4,050 which is the anticipated cost of this Assistive Reproduction Technique (Art)".
The judge said the application came before him as a matter of extreme urgency, adding: "I am told that the chemotherapy can only be delayed for 4-6 weeks, and that oocyte preservation 'takes a few weeks to complete'."
Dismissing her judicial review, he said he had found that Miss Rose "has failed to demonstrate any public law unlawfulness".
Merry Varney from law firm Leigh Day, representing Miss Rose, said: " Whilst the court decided that the past decision by the CCG to deny my client this treatment was not unlawful, most importantly the court went on to find that the CCG's current policy, which also denies funding for this type of fertility preservation treatment, is unlawful.
"The court found that the CCG had failed to provide sufficiently good reasons for not implementing the 2013 Nice guidance, which provides this treatment should be offered."
She said the "CCG must now without delay reconsider their policy in light of these findings for the sake of our client and others".
After the ruling Miss Rose said: "I am pleased, not just for me but for many other single women in my position, that Thanet Commissioning Group now has to revisit its policy.
" I would like to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly supportive doctors who have helped me a great deal through this fight and my illness."