'Strangers paid for our IVF and gave us a baby'

Crowdsourcing success ... Jessica Haley and her son, Landon. (Image: twitter.com/jesshaley)
Crowdsourcing success ... Jessica Haley and her son, Landon. (Image: twitter.com/jesshaley) 

Jessica Haley was 16 when she met her high school sweetheart and future husband, Sean Haley. But after 12 years of happily being together, there was still one person missing from their relationship - a child of their own.

After trying to conceive a child naturally for three years, and being informed by a doctor of only having a 1 per cent chance of success, the US couple turned to the internet for help to raise money for IVF treatment as their insurance would not cover the cost of the procedure.

One option was to make their story public, but they were afraid to reveal their struggle with infertility, and to ask friends for money.

“Sean wanted to keep quiet, possibly take out a loan or put all of the IVF expenses on a credit card,” Jessica Haley told Fairfax's ITPro. “I was ready to ask for help but only in a small way.”

Then in June last year, just months away from their fourth wedding anniversary, in an act of desperation, the couple from Melbourne Beach, Florida, posted their story on crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, a service normally used to raise funds for art, technology and other projects by using social media to solicit small donations.

He's here because of the hundreds of people that believed in us and wanted us to become parents

It wasn't their first try. Another crowdsourcing website, Kickstarter, rejected their application as it doesn't accept health or medical projects.

Through IndieGoGo they asked for $US5000, but their story ultimately raising $US8050, more than 50 per cent of the amount required.

The response was overwhelming, she said.

“Our website spread like wildfire and was popping up on friends of friends’ news feeds [on Facebook]," she said.


“This story we had hid for so long was being accepted by so many people. And friends, family and even complete strangers wanted to help make our dream come true.”

Over time, Haley detailed her challenges and life changes, including taking pills and daily injections, and how, after 16 eggs were harvested, their family hopes lay with three embryos.

On September 2, the couple learned that their 1 per cent chance of successfully falling pregnant had turned into a 100 per cent certainty: Haley was pregnant. She continued to detail her journey on Twitter and on April 7 gave birth to baby Landon, who spent his first few days in intensive care.

"He’s been home with us for nine days now. We can't stop staring at him. He's really ours, a mix of Sean and I, a sweet, little miracle.

“He's here because of the hundreds of people that believed in us and wanted us to become parents. Our dream came true. We have a baby, one that comes with an amazing story that we hope and pray inspires others who are facing infertility issues too."

"I get teary-eyed just thinking about the number of people who helped us get here," she wrote on her Twitter account. "If you have helped us in any way at all, THANK YOU. We cannot say it enough. Your donations have allowed us to do something we never thought we could."

IndieGoGo principal Adam Chapnick said crowdfunding services like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and Australia's own Pozible are used to create a project where the owners offer rewards for donations. 

There is a donation every 55 seconds on IndieGoGo, and Chapnick said millions of dollars were donated every month across 70,000 projects in hundreds of countries around the world.

He said the site aimed to become the 'eBay of ideas', a marketplace for dreams.