“I’m a Ukrainian refugee and have to transport my husband’s sperm 1,750 miles for a baby”


Ukrainian Iryna Litvinova wants to have an IVF baby and had to leave a frozen embryo at home. Now she wants to have her husband’s sperm shipped to the UK

Iryna fled her home and now wants a baby
Iryna fled her home and now wants a baby

A woman fleeing the UK is struggling to save her IVF baby dream after being forced to leave a frozen embryo in war-torn Ukraine.

Iryna Litvinova, 37, longs to be a mother and stands up to Vladimir Putin, whose bombings have forced her to leave her hometown of Kharkiv.

She had an embryo left over from an IVF cycle and managed to transport it safely to Kyiv before heading here.

But the war prevents them from gaining access to the embryo. Her husband Sergey, 36, is back home as men aged 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country unless there are exceptional circumstances.

There’s no way of knowing when — or where — they’ll be reunited, let alone attempting to start a family.

But Iryna, who has endured the pain of a stillbirth, has new hope – to have Sergey’s frozen sperm shipped 1,750 miles to the UK to begin fertility treatment here.

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Iryna and husband Sergei


Iryna Litvinova)

It will cost around £5,000 in postage and clinic fees – and Iryna’s UK host has set up a fundraising page.

She tells the Sunday Mirror: “Putin’s war is not just about killing and physical destruction. He also destroys hopes and plans.

“As this war rages on, my chances of becoming a mother are diminishing. The clinic has said there are staffing issues because of the war and there are not the proper protocols in place to allow the genetic material to be released.

“Now the plan is for Sergey to go to a clinic that has the right license to transport semen and find a courier who can take it out of the country and into the UK.”

She desperately longs for a baby


Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)

Iryna, who suffers from low estrogen and progesterone levels, was undergoing IVF in Kharkiv when Russia invaded.

Her first round of IVF, which cost £2,500 in 2016, ended in heartbreak when the couple lost a daughter in stillbirth at 35 weeks.

Three more attempts were unsuccessful.

Speaking of her daughter, Iryna said: “I had a caesarean section and when I woke up the doctors didn’t tell me what happened. Sergey walked in and I knew from his face that we had lost her. We cried together but I felt guilty that it was my fault. I never got to see or hold my baby, and a part of me died that day. It wasn’t until last year that I was able to talk about it without crying.

“Now the war has brought terrible losses again, the loss of life as we know it.

“We had a regular, happy life before the Russians invaded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin


SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

“I grew up on my parents’ farm outside of Kharkiv, and Sergey and I met through friends in 2004. We got married in 2011.

“We are very happy. He is my best friend. We loved our apartment and went to the cinema together.

“Now it’s all gone. The war knocked on our door. Our apartment was damaged by bombing and then we heard about the Bucha massacre.

“My husband said to me, ‘I can’t protect you here. If I have to go to the army, I’ll be calmer if you’re safe.

“Our lives have been turned upside down. It was even hard to do normal things like getting up and brushing your teeth.

“Eating was all about survival. War is entirely out of our hands, just like stillbirth. I felt powerless and like I was dead again.”

But after arriving in England, Iryna has started putting her life together.

She adds: “After the stillbirth and three unsuccessful attempts, I was afraid to try again.

“Even when I got pregnant, I was very afraid of losing my unborn child. When that happened, I wasn’t sure if I could survive physically or mentally. But the war showed me that I have the strength to try again with a baby.

“Even though Sergey is not here, we don’t have enough money and everything is so uncertain, I realized that IVF is a thread that can give me hope. It means life.”

Iryna lives in Rye, East Sussex with British host Amy Maynard, 42. She arrived in April.

Her sister Marina also fled here and lives with her husband and two children in Dartford, Kent.

Marina’s husband was allowed to leave Ukraine because their house was occupied by Russian soldiers and then destroyed.

She had to flee her homeland


AFP via Getty Images)

Host Amy has set up a GoFundMe campaign currently costing £3,000 and is helping Iryna find IVF clinics. Meanwhile, Sergey – who now runs a car rental business in Dnipro – has discovered he can transport his sperm in a dry ice container for £1,550.

He and Iryna FaceTime every night and she checks in daily with her parents, who refuse to leave their homeland. Meanwhile, Iryna is taking English classes and learning about the British tax system so she can get a job as an accountant.

She adds: “The future is so uncertain. I don’t know when I will be reunited with my husband. We may be 1,750 miles apart, but this hope that we might have another baby together keeps us united in spirit.”

From Ukraine, Sergey said: “I miss Iryna so much and it hurts to be so far away from her. But it was our decision that this was the best path for our family.

“We have lost so much – our home, our livelihood. But the thought of IVF has given my wife Iryna the strength and hope to keep going.

“I will do whatever it takes to make that happen and when we learn that our family is growing it will give me strength too. I will do my best to be close to my wife, be it in England or Ukraine.”

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