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NHS 70 - A Chance at Life

As part of the 70th birthday celebrations, I followed a couple from Huddersfield who have been given the chance to have a baby thanks to IVF- offered in Calderdale on the NHS.

Maria and James Hill first met at school. They later met again in a bar - where Maria was impressed at his ''typical Yorkshireman'' attitude to buying a drink.

Maria and James joke about the way they met Credit: ITV News

''He bought the first, then said, 'is it your round? I quite liked that!''

Together for 15 years, they began trying for a baby 5 years ago.

''We were quite relaxed about it - we didn't want to get stressed. But in 2015 we knew we had to go to the doctor.''

They discovered James had a blockage which meant they would never conceive naturally.

''We were devastated. You never think it'll be you. And everywhere you look people are pregnant or have children.''

They were referred to the Yorkshire Fertility Clinic. Doctors managed to retrieve 6 embryos - freezing five and transferring one to Maria.

But that failed.

''We just hugged each other, and said it will happen, it will happen.''

But the second attempt in 2016 also failed.

But then - in October 2017 - Maria was pregnant.

''I woke James up at 3am, and said quick, look at this. We both just stared at it for ages - we couldn't believe it.''

Maria works as a Macmillan nurse at Calderdale Hospital - where she also has her maternity appointments.

Maria at work as a Macmillan Nurse in Calderdale Hospital Credit: ITV News

She says being a part of the organisation, she owes even more to it.

''It gave me my career - and what's more, this absolutely precious gift. But, if you tried to imagine everyday life without the NHS, you couldn't. In my job, it saves lives, and prolongs them. And I know the cost of drugs. What would we do without the NHS, really?''

Maria's doctor, Martin de Bono, treated her at the Yorkshire Fertility Clinic. He too says couples struggling to conceive have a lot to thank the NHS for.

''We have made huge advances especially in male fertility - a few years ago, James' issue might have meant they couldn't have had their own children. And it's the NHS which funds that research. I hope the NHS continues to fund it, and that it's offered to everyone, everywhere in the country.''

As part of their IVF journey, Maria and James wanted to learn more about its history. We organised for them to meet with Jenny Joy - daughter of IVF pioneer Dr Robert Edwards. He was born in Batley - and they met up at the park where a plaque commemorates him.

Maria and James meet Jenny Joy at Wilton Park in Batley Credit: ITV News

Jenny told them how her father faced opposition for his work - which led to the birth of the first so-called test tube baby back in 1978.

As we drove back to the station - Jenny now lives in Cambridge - she said what saddened her was that people today don't know what he went through for his work - or indeed who he was.

But she added: ''Meeting couples like Maria and James brings it home really, and what makes it even better is that those children will be so cherished, because of the special way they came into this world.''

Mike Newton and I prepare for the birth! Credit: ITV News

And it was baby Oliver's turn on June 22nd. It was a planned Caesarian, due to him being breech.

James helps Maria to remain calm during the operation Credit: ITV News

Cameraman Mike Newton and I were privileged to be there, when, at 9.48am, he was born, weighing 8lb 14oz.

Maria with her new baby boy Oliver Credit: ITV News

After the operation, back on the ward, Maria told us how thankful she was for everything.

The happy family Credit: ITV News

''It wouldn't have been possible without the NHS. Our surgeon said he had long fingers, and perhaps he too would be a surgeon. He could give something back then. We've waited five years for him, and we just can't wait to get him home.''

Watch Calendar tonight to see the full story.

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