Ian Aird, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Fertility Services supporting Gateshead for 25 years

Ian started his career at Gateshead in 1998. At this time, the IVF unit had only been in existence for around 12 months.

A career written in the genes

With both my parents being obstetricians and gynaecologists, I guess I’d have to say that my interest in the specialty was strongly genetically determined! I had always wanted to do medicine and when I was a medical student, I really enjoyed obstetrics and gynaecology.

Ian Aird, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Fertility Services
Ian Aird, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Fertility Services

Shared achievements

My time within the IVF department has been nothing short of exceptional and there have been many achievements over the years.

Throughout my career, I am proudest of leading and supporting the team through all of the changes and developments over the years. The whole journey for the IVF team has involved massive input from all the team members and it has been an absolute joy to be part of this team and to help to get us to where we are now. The unit is in a great position. We pride ourselves on the level of service that we provide and we always have the interests of our patients at the centre of everything we do.

It may not always end with a happy outcome, and for me, the measure of a good unit is also how we support the couples for whom treatment has not resulted in a positive outcome. How we help and support them to adjust or explore other avenues to starting a family is equally as important.

25 years of committed service

Since coming to Gateshead as well as being the departmental lead for fertility services, I was also the designated Person Responsible (PR). The role is to ensure that the fertility unit follows the regulatory principles and processes of the Code of Practice produced by the HFEA.

In terms of training in fertility and assisted conception, I am the regional preceptor for the Advanced Training Skills Module in Subfertility and Reproductive Medicine and British Fertility (BFS) recognised trainer in Ultrasound Scanning.

In 2018 I was elected to the Executive Committee of the British Fertility Society where my main role was as Chair of the Meetings Subcommittee responsible for arranging the annual UK International Fertility Conference. A post that I held for three years, culminating in me being the Programme Chair for Fertility 2021 the International Conference organised but the joint UK fertility societies including the BFS, The Society for Reproduction and Fertility and the Association of Reproductive Clinicians and Scientists.

To find out more about how the fertility service has developed and grown over the last 25 years you can read this article: Looking back over 26 years of fertility services at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

A life changing illness

In 2016 following a bout of food poisoning, I developed a rare neurological condition called Guillain Barre syndrome which causes damage to the nerves. This left me virtually paralysed, hospitalised for seven months and wheelchair-bound for 18 months.

I am pleased to say I have made a good recovery from this, but I am left with residual weakness in my arms and legs, which restricts my mobility to a degree. I have also not fully regained the fine motor control in my hands, meaning I am no longer able to operate and perform clinical procedures. I was saddened also to have to give up obstetrics, but it has allowed me to develop myself in my non-clinical and teaching roles. I am still able to see patients in outpatients and the IVF and fertility clinics, so I still have a very active role in the IVF unit.

A rewarding job

Personally, I love the contact with the patients. The feedback we get from our patients is fantastic and so rewarding, Without doubt, the best aspect of my job has been being part of the process to help a couple start their family after years of heartache. Being there at the beginning to help someone achieve a pregnancy and through my role as an obstetrician, looking after them during the pregnancy, is hugely satisfying. Not infrequently, I would also be there at the end to perform the delivery as well. I can’t think of a more rewarding experience.

Unfortunately, following my illness, when I was no longer able to do obstetrics, I have missed the opportunity to take part in the pregnancy and birth, but I am still active in seeing patients in the IVF unit and outpatients. Helping to investigate fertility problems and plan fertility treatments still allows me a lot of patient contact and gives me great satisfaction.

More recently, I have been able to use my years of experience in managing fertility to help with my leadership role. This has allowed me to have a more strategic role in planning the future development of the unit which I have found exciting and rewarding.

All good things must come to an end, as I turned 60 last year, I have reduced my hours and the time came to hand over the leadership reins to my colleague Isaac Evbuomwan, who is leading the team to further develop the great service that we provide. I have every confidence that he is doing fantastic job and wish him every success in the future. I still play an active role in the unit but in a supportive rather than a leading role.