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First public IVF baby born in Aust program milestone

Victoria is hailing the first baby to be born as part of a $120 million public fertility program as it gears up to treat up to 5000 people a year.

The first baby has been born through a public fertility program in Australia as authorities call for more sperm and egg donations.

Erin and Anthony welcomed baby Felix into the world on October 17 after he was conceived as part of Victoria's Australian-first public fertility program.

More than 1100 people have been treated since the $120 million initiative began 12 months ago, with a 37 per cent pregnancy rate for patients.

Twenty-one Victorians have become pregnant so far through treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intrauterine insemination and intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Fertility preservation, such as egg freezing, is also available for people undergoing medical treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses.

The program is being delivered by the Royal Women's Hospital and Monash Health, with satellite sites in Epping, Mildura, Bendigo and Warrnambool.

More clinics are set to open in Shepparton, Heidelberg, Geelong, Sunshine and Ballarat by the end of the year.

The cost of the public hospital services will be free for most people, saving patients about $10,000, though some may incur out-of-pocket costs for medication, diagnostics or specialised tests.

Royal Women's Hospital head of reproductive services Kate Stern said it had been busy year, with more than 15 per cent of its patients referred from rural providers.

More than 260 people have expressed interest in being sperm and egg donors but she wants more to put up their hand.

"When people realise that being a donor is associated with identity release but (there are) no responsibilities for the children, I think that's pretty reassuring," Associate Professor Stern told reporters on Sunday.

"It's a serious thing to do but it's a really amazing gift and we really want Victorians to consider passing on anything they can."

Once more sites roll out, the program will be able to offer fertility treatments to up to 5000 Victorians every year.

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas acknowledged people's path to having a child through IVF can be made more difficult because of affordability and where they live.

"We want to make sure that public fertility services make the opportunity to start or grow a family more accessible to more Victorians," she said.


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