PHOTOS

IVF Australia Kogarah nurse celebrates 20 years' service

For IVF nurse Sharne Rutherford, her role supporting couples during their IVF journey is even more important than the outcome.

"I have always said that it is an honour to be involved in these people's journeys," said Ms Rutherford, who next month celebrates 20 years working at IVF Australia's Kogarah clinic.

During her long career, she has worked with thousands of would-be-parents, mostly from St George and Sutherland Shire, as they embarked on IVF or one of the other treatment options for those struggling to conceive.

"I love what I do; supporting our patients through their IVF treatment," she said. "It's actually an honour to guide them through their IVF journey and be a part of this special time in their lives."

Ms Rutherford described herself as a "patient advocate", and said she was often less of a nurse and more of a friend and support person.

"Often, IVF patients don't tell their families that they are embarking on treatment, so they do really enjoy having a team of nurses who they can lean on, not only for guidance on how to take medicines but also for emotional support," she said.

"We are here to listen and support them."

She said it was not unusual 20 years ago for patients to go through multiple failed IVF attempts before finally having the baby they dreamed of, or walking away empty handed. She recalls a patient having "about 12" IVF attempts.

But with advances in IVF technology, success rates have improved greatly, while problems that are insurmountable are picked up sooner.

"We can now offer our patients a technology, which uses polarised light to look inside their eggs, to help see which ones have a better chance of a successful pregnancy," she said.

"Genetic testing of embryos also shows abnormalities with embryos so we can diagnose genetic conditions, which means less women and couples will experience the devastating loss of miscarriages."

Ms Rutherford was last week joined by another IVF nurse, Deirdre Quinn, who is celebrating 19 years' service, and former patient Sandra Fisk.

Ms Fisk was the first woman to fall pregnant when the clinic, then known as IVF South, opened its doors in 1996. She went on to give birth to twin daughters Lacinda and Brittany.

IVF Australia southern Sydney clinical director Professor Michael Chapman described Ms Rutherford as his "right hand".

"As a team, we have worked together to produce 3000 babies in her 20 years at the clinic," he said.

"I doubt there are any patients who have been through the clinic that have not been in contact with Sharne and remember her for the care she has provided them. She is absolutely dedicated to caring for her patients."

Now a nurse unit manager at the Kogarah clinic, Ms Rutherford said the constant advancements in the field and her changing role meant she "never got bored".

"The best thing is seeing the families at the end, but also being there for the ones that don't get the outcome they wanted," she said.

"That is a really important job; to be there to support the ones who don't get that baby at the end."