Case study: East Lancashire couple grateful for research opportunity after giving birth to second child
Taking part in research changed the family's lives.
A couple who were unable to conceive for three years have spoken of their delight at being given the opportunity to take part in a research study which led to the arrival of their second child.
Jessica Corbally, 27, and husband Chris, 30, decided to start a family five years ago having been together since they were teenagers.
Jessica became pregnant with daughter Faye, now aged five, without any issues. But when the couple started to try for their second child two years later, they found they were unable to conceive.
After 12 months of trying, Jessica and Chris were referred by their GP to the fertility clinic at Burnley General Hospital, part of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT).
Tests carried out at the clinic revealed both were okay, but after two further years of trying, their pregnancy tests continued to be negative.
It was at this point that a consultant at ELHT introduced Jessica and Chris to the idea of taking part in a clinical research study for which they met the criteria.
The study is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network’s (CRN) portfolio of studies being carried out to constantly improve treatments and patient outcomes.
This particular study has been designed to evaluate whether a new procedure results in higher pregnancy rates in couples with unexplained infertility who are trying to conceive naturally.
The procedure involves taking an 'endometrial biopsy’, which involves passing a thin plastic catheter through the cervix and into the womb. Participants are allocated at random to either undergo the endometrial ‘scratching’, or to undergo a placebo procedure.
All participants such as Jessica are not aware which arm of the study they have been allocated to. It is part of an ongoing trial, being conducted at multiple hospitals, to assess its wide-scale effectiveness. It is not available on the NHS at this time. *
After being given detailed information, Jessica and Chris opted to participate in the study and Jessica underwent one of the two study procedures. They were then advised to continue trying to conceive for up to three months post-procedure.
Towards the end of the third month, Jessica and the entire family were overjoyed to learn that she had in fact become pregnant. They enjoyed a normal pregnancy and their son, Joshua, was born at Burnley General Hospital just before Christmas on 20 December 2018, weighing 7lbs 9oz.
Jessica, a waitress who lives in Clitheroe with husband Chris, a construction site manager, said: “I must admit, we didn’t know very much at all about clinical research until the consultant told us about this study. But everything was explained very clearly to us and we felt completely comfortable taking part. I remember that they seemed such a happy team.
“We had nothing to lose, yet we’ve gained everything we ever wanted. To anybody else, he might be just another baby, but to us, he is a special baby.
“We’ve been given fantastic care from start to finish and feel it’s been an amazing opportunity to take part in a research study like this at our local clinic. Not only have we benefited by having Joshua, we also feel like we have contributed a little something to medical research.
“Once the study has finished and the findings have been published, we’ll be really keen to see the outcome and be proud to know we’ve been part of it. From our experience, we would definitely encourage anybody, no matter what their condition, to enquire about any research studies they might be able to take part in.”
Shankaralingaiah Nethra, the Principal Investigator for the study at ELHT, said: “Offering women and their partners involvement in fertility studies is imperative to enable us to continue to strive for answers during what can be difficult and very emotional journeys for couples.
“The hard work and dedication of the women’s health research team is integral to the success of this study and I am very thankful for their support. We are delighted Jessica and Chris had positive outcomes whilst under the care of our services and we offer our congratulations to the family.”
* This study was a randomised trial, which means Jessica was randomly allocated by a computer programme into one of two groups to receive either a) the procedure of endometrial scratching or b) a placebo procedure. This standard research approach is important to ensure the integrity of the study outcomes. The trial team remains blind to each participant’s allocation for the duration of the study. As the study is ongoing, it is not possible to reveal Jessica's allocation at this time.