The Greek Australian sending anonymous care packages to families struggling with IVF

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Melbourne mum, Vikkie Triantafyllou, is always running after her two beautiful daughters, Stefanie and Elektra, but she says she ‘wouldn’t have it any other way.’

No surprise there. Although Elektra, 8, was conceived naturally, Vikkie’s journey to have Stefanie, 4, was much more tumultuous. Having developed some medical issues after the birth of her first daughter, Vikkie was left with only one option – in vitro fertilisation, otherwise known as IVF.

According to IVF Australia, IVF is a procedure by which an egg and sperm are joined together outside the body in a specialised laboratory. The success rate of having a baby ranges from 34.9 percent for patients under 30 years old, to 8.7 percent for patients over 40.

Being 39 years old at the time, Vikkie was closer to the lower birth success rate but luckily, that wasn’t the case.

Vikkie’s beautiful daughter Stefanie was born via IVF. Photo supplied.

“We had two full egg retrieval cycles and then we had a number of embryo transfers along the way. We had a couple of miscarriages and then I ended up being pregnant with twins but lost one of them in the early days. In the end, we got one healthy baby out of it and we feel very lucky,” Vikkie tells The Greek Herald exclusively.

But others clearly aren’t as lucky. Something Vikkie says was the trigger behind her idea to donate 20 anonymous care packages to the Melbourne IVF clinic in Mt Waverley, Victoria, for the last four years.

“Every time I would be in the waiting room, I would have ladies sort of attached to me and sharing their stories about financial strains and sacrifices they had to make, like not being able to go to the movies or get a haircut or go to a restaurant, because all their money was going towards the IVF treatment,” Vikkie says.

“And I would come home from every session and I’d be so upset, and my husband would ask, ‘Is it not going well?’ and I’d tell him what was wrong and he said, ‘You need to find a way to help them’.”

Vikkie sends 20 anonymous care packs to families stuggling with IVF every year. Photo supplied.

Cue Vikkie’s mad dash to contact a few different businesses, hoping to put just a ‘small care package’ together. But ultimately, she says she was ‘absolutely overwhelmed’ by the response she received.

Donations ranged from 20 signed books by actress Mary Koustas, to shoes from Crocs Australia, haircut vouchers from Just Cuts and care products from Chemist Warehouse, just to name a few.

From there, her idea only continued to flourish and now her anonymous care packages have put a smile on the faces of at least 80 families.

“The care packages are given to couples that the nurses decide are probably having a little bit more of a rough time than most couples,” Vikkie says.

The clinic receptionist gives Vikkie a number of thankful letters from people who have received the care packs. Photo supplied.

“So they could go to couples that are close to giving birth but have had a really bad struggle, or couples that have not been successful.

“By coincidence, I’ve also had people I know receive the packs over the years. I saw a care package on my friend’s kitchen counter one day and I had no idea she was even going through IVF.”

Vikkie says this encounter was ‘mind blowing’ as it made her realise people are still too scared to talk about IVF openly.

“IVF is definitely a taboo topic and something that people are scared of. Especially in the Greek community where some people are like, ‘what’s wrong with you if can’t you have a baby’,” Vikkie explains.

Vikkie is grateful her care packs are helping others talk about IVF. Photo supplied.

But at the end of the day, she’s still hopeful her care packages are encouraging people to start conversations about the sensitive issue.

“I have received letters that were given to the clinic receptionist to hand to me, and they’re just beautiful. People are blown away that someone has gone to the trouble to care about them,” Vikkie says.

“So I think the care packages have allowed people to open up a lot more and talk about their journey, and that’s just fantastic.”

If you would like to contribute towards these care packages, please contact Vikkie at vikkie@giftwrappedup.com.au.

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