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Fertility Journeys

Heather And Brandon Update Us On Their Fertility Journey



Heather and Brandon ORM

After nearly ten years trying to build their family, Heather & Brandon are well on their way to becoming parents. They’ve selected their egg donor, received the amazing results of their egg donor’s retrieval and are getting ready for Heather’s transfer. We catch-up with the latest exciting steps in their journey.

Heather writes…

Selecting an egg donor has been an eye-opening experience for me. Like for so many women with fertility journeys similar to mine, this process was a totally new concept for us and we wanted to identify an egg donor who would be the perfect fit for us. We didn’t know quite what to expect, but having tried two IVF cycles unsuccessfully in the past using my own eggs, we were determined to find an egg donor who we felt resembled me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

We’d been advised that there are in general fewer available egg donors of minority ethnicities and that our search may, therefore, take longer. As both Brandon and I are light-skinned and of black heritage, we were hoping to find an egg donor of similar background.

When it was time to start looking the advice was correct and there was only one currently available donor of black heritage. She was beautiful, smart and well educated but as she was dark-skinned we were worried that a child from her donor egg and Brandon’s sperm would not resemble us, both of us being lighter skinned. Additionally, her genetic screening was not as good of a match for us so we politely declined matching with that donor and kept looking.

Heather and Brandon Scrubs

We kept an open mind, kept looking and were considering other egg donors who had more features associated with people of colour but who were not of black heritage. We were leaning towards one in particular, but we were struggling to make a decision. While she had a wonderful profile, I didn’t feel that connection I was hoping for.

Coincidentally enough, around this time I was scheduled for a consultation with one of ORM’s genetic counsellors, Gena, to discuss the statistics associated with our planned procedure. She went through the success rates for one embryo and a two embryo transfer with me by phone.

While we spoke casually towards the end of the call, I voiced my concerns that I hadn’t made a selection yet of an egg donor. I told Gena how I was finding it difficult to find an egg donor who I felt looked like me and who I connected with.

Without hesitation, Gena shared that a new egg donor had joined the ORM program. I immediately logged on to the egg donor portal while Gena guided me through the process over the phone of finding the new egg donor. As soon as I saw her I immediately began to cry.

Heather and Brandon

This egg donor was beautiful. She looked like me. She had a wonderful smile and she had so many goals that were very similar to the goals that I set for myself at her age. She is a selfless giver, adventurous, determined to educate herself and persistent. She talked about how whatever goals she sets for herself, while it may take time and hard work to achieve them, she will reach those goals. As I read that statement from the question and answer section of her application, I said to myself, “I have found my match!”

Persistence has been one of my most important attributes and I found myself strongly connected to this woman who was coming to the aid of people like me who are in need of the ultimate gift, a donor egg. To add to my strong connection to her, she said she loved seafood. Seafood is my favorite!

I contacted ORM’s egg donor matching coordinator, Corby, right away to tell her that we’d found our donor! Corby happily agreed to set the wheels in motion!

We’d been saving for our retirement, but we took some of these funds to cover our egg donor’s compensation and travel expenses so that our donor could start her preparations. We figured that the investment in building our family was more than worth it!

Our treatment coordinator, Christina, shared our egg donor’s calendar with us. I’ll always remember our egg donor’s retrieval day, January 21st 2018. I had been praying all day that she was having a good day, feeling well, feeling encouraged about helping someone else. Fortunately, my prayers were answered.

On the retrieval day, we heard that 38 eggs were retrieved. Incredible! About three weeks later after fertilisation, development of the embryos in the lab for 5 days, chromosomal screening, and freezing we got the most amazing news.

We had 14 normal embryos (6 male and 8 female) to work with! Having had so many disappointments in the past, receiving such great news on the number of embryos was an absolutely phenomenal feeling.

Now in preparation for my transfer, it’s been my turn. I have a calendar with daily medication dosages and times to take all dosages plastered around my home to ensure that I don’t miss a beat. ORM sent me a package with all the medications I would need up until the transfer and this has lessened my stress level quite significantly.

On two occasions during past cycles, I was rushing to pharmacies before they closed and dealing with the panic of not knowing whether the pharmacy would have enough of the required medications for me to finish my cycle. With this experience at ORM, the stress of the pharmacy has not been a concern.

I recently completed my first calendar request for blood work to monitor my hormone levels with great results. I have more blood work and scans to come before it’s time to get on the plane back to ORM in Portland. I’m determined to follow the calendar to the letter.

I am also eating well, and doing 20 minutes of yoga and guided meditation every day to try and keep calm and not over analyze this process as my transfer day approaches.

We are hopeful, grateful and full of faith that this journey is headed in the right direction towards our goal of becoming parents! Next stop Portland!

Dr Barbieri comments on Heather and Brandon’s journey

It is always a joyful occasion when we are able to give our patients such wonderful news as Heather and Brandon have received regarding the number of normal embryos they have from their donor egg cycle.

Picking an egg donor is a very personal choice, and it is important for patients to feel comfortable with their selection. As in Heather’s case, ,any time patients tell us that they knew instinctively when they had found the right egg donor.

At ORM our egg donor profiles contain a comprehensive set of information including: adult and childhood photos, physical characteristics, education and career, interests, personal qualities, prior egg donation experience and outcomes, reasons for donating, compensation and travel reimbursement (if any required), openness to contact (anonymous, semi-open via the Donor Sibling Registry, or open), general health history, reproductive health history, family description and family health history.

In addition, our patients are provided an egg donor’s genetic disorder carrier screening results and a comprehensive Genetic Information and Family Tree (GIFT) summary, which is unique to ORM and is prepared by one of ORM’s genetic counselors. This assessment helps patients interpret the genetic risks present in a donor’s family history. This also provides a record of the donor’s family medical history that can relied-upon in the future if needed.

Heather is now preparing for her transfer. She’s being diligent about her medications protocol while continuing to look after her general health and diet, as well as her mental well-being.

An optimistic outlook makes such a positive difference in our patients’ experience. Heather and Brandon have every reason to be optimistic and I am confident that they will have the best possible chance for success in building the family they hope for.

The entire team at ORM is so looking forward to having Heather and Brandon back in Portland for their upcoming transfer!


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Fertility Journeys

Free IVF Treatment With Gennet City Fertility Clinic



Gennet City Fertility

At Gennet City Fertility we offer you bespoke fertility treatment using an individualised approach and cutting-edge technologies.

Our promise to you is that we will look thoroughly into your fertility difficulties; that we will use state of the art treatment protocols and technologies, and when appropriate, we will also ‘think outside the box’.

The members of the team at GENNET City Fertility were carefully chosen on the basis of their achievements while working in reputable units in London and overseas. Within our team, we share extensive experience of and vast knowledge in fertility medicine, assisted reproduction and the management of early pregnancy. Using this knowledge and experience we endeavour to provide you with the most expert advice and to guide you through a fertility journey that is caring, safe, professional and transparent.

At our clinic, we offer a number of fertility treatments:

  • Ovulation induction
  • IUI
  • IVF
  • ICSI
  • Egg donation
  • Sperm donation
  • Embryo donation
  • Surrogacy

We also offer many other services:

  • Joint, female or male fertility assessment
  • Egg freezing
  • Sperm freezing
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
  • Preimplantation genetic screening
  • Urology and Andrology
  • Surgical sperm retrieval
  • Counselling
  • Psychosexual advice
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritionist consultation
  • Support groups and support programs.

We are a proud partner of Access Fertility which is the largest provider of IVF Refund & Multi-Cycle Programmes and Fertility Finance in the UK.

Ramesan Navaratnarajah



We are offering a free fertility treatment (IVF/ICSI) including the medication to one lucky couple. In addition to this, we will select 50 couples for a free initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists worth £200.


To enter the draw for the incredible free round of IVF/ICSI or a chance to have one of the 50 fully funded consultation appointments, please read the terms and conditions below and follow the link to the form to submit your application.


The fertility treatment prize includes initial consultation, pre-treatment tests (Antral follicle count scan, AMH blood test, semen assessment etc.), 1 cycle of IVF treatment, plus ICSI if required.

  • All medication
  • Medical and nursing appointments and care
  • All in-treatment laboratory tests and procedures
  • Monitoring and scanning costs
  • Egg Collection
  • Embryo transfer
  • Pregnancy serum test
  • Pregnancy ultrasound scan
  • Follow up consultation (if taken within three months of treatment completion)
  • Counselling
  • The prize does not include:
  • Cost of freezing embryos plus the storage of embryos.
  • Surgical sperm retrieval
  • Empirical treatments

This prize does not include any costs of having donor treatment. If the prize winner needs donor eggs or sperm we would deduct the costs of the above and the recipient would need to pay the additional costs.

The value of this prize is in excess of £6000.

This prize could not be used against surrogacy treatment.


We will contact the winner and aim to get them a consultation to start treatment as soon as possible, depending on their cycle.

Any offer of treatment is subject to the relevant Welfare of the Child checks. Patients would also need to have a BMI of less than 35 to undergo treatment.

If the applicant has travelled to a Zika affected country they would be required to wait the length of the relevant quarantine period before treatment could commence.


The successful applicants that will be shortlisted for the free IVF treatment prize must be under the age of 38 years old and with a BMI that is 19 to 35.

This offer doesn’t apply to existing Gennet City Fertility patients who are currently undergoing treatment.


The successful applicants who will be shortlisted for the 50 free consultation appointments must be under the age 50. The appointments will be offered according to the clinic’s availability.

This offer doesn’t apply to existing Gennet City Fertility patients who are currently undergoing treatment

The successful couple that will receive the free IVF cycle will not be included in the 50 free consultations draw.


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Egg Donation

IVF Spain Update Us on Claire & David and Laura & Ian Progress



Claire & David IVF Spain

During the first week of August, Claire (42) and David (35), the winners of this year’s Fertility Journey, visited our clinic for their first embryo transfer.

They were pleased to share with us the emotion and joy created by their short stay in Spain.

“We have spent some time in Alicante ahead of the transfer, relaxing in the area and preparing for our next visit to IVF Spain. Our experience with previous treatments with UK clinics has been very stressful but in Alicante, we have spent most of our time preparing for treatment by relaxing on the beach!”

Claire and David arrive at IVF Spain after having been trying to get pregnant for 7 long years and experienced 3 failed ICSI treatments with their own eggs. IVF Spain discovered that the quality of the embryos was poor and that they had always been transferred on day 3 of their development with a bad morphology. In order to increase their chances of getting pregnant, the clinic recommended an egg donation treatment – a fertility treatment which that greatly depends on matching the perfect donor to the patient.

To protect both patients and donors Spanish law requires that the donation process must be completely anonymous.  In addition, donors must be in good condition and younger than 35. Moreover, both donor and patient must share a phenotypical resemblance: hair colour, BMI, eye colour, and so on.

Dr Herea

Claire and David were grateful that so many women in Spain were willing to donate their own eggs, enabling others less fortunate, the chance of forming a family.

“We are really grateful that there are people willing to donate eggs. If we are being honest, it has taken a while for us to understand the Spanish anonymity rules for egg donors, but we have taken the time to consider this. It’s hard not having control or letting another person being in charge for something related to your baby. However, we even think now it is better that way, because the more you know, the more you want to know and we do prefer knowing nothing and leaving it in the clinic’s hands.”

There are other factors, however, that are crucial to achieving a successful pregnancy: the quality of the embryo and the microenvironment of the endometrial lining. This means that a successful pregnancy also depends on the successful communication between the embryo and the endometrial lining.

When we discovered that Claire didn’t have a single positive pregnancy test, we suggested to perform an endometrial biopsy to analyse the retrieved sample by means of the ER Map® test (Endometrial Receptivity Map) and accurately determine the receptivity of Claire’s endometrium during the window of implantation (the moment when the endometrial lining is receptive).

”The test results showed that Claire’s endometrium was post-receptive, meaning that a transfer performed on day 5.5 of progesterone (like in 70% of cases) would not end up in a successful pregnancy” explains Dr Natalia Szlarb.

“Before coming to IVF Spain, we had never heard of an endometrial study or ER Map. The fact that the endometrial study analyses the best time to transfer the embryo could make a big difference to our treatment. We were really impressed with the accuracy of the test. Our ER Map test result was post-receptive and although this was initially a concern, we later came around to the view that knowing the best time to transfer the embryo would increase the chances of success, and this might have been the reason our other treatments in the UK had failed” – Claire and David.

There are other key factors, however, to achieve a pregnancy such as the male factor. David suffers from teratospermia which implies that 96% of the ejaculate sperm cells have an abnormal morphology. Luckily, we were able to improve David’s sperm quality and fertilize the retrieved eggs.

We now wish them the best of luck!

Although it will not be until mid-September when Laura (41) and Ian (44), the 2018 runners-up visit us in Alicante for their embryo transfer, they already talked about the differences between IVF Spain and former clinics. They were impressed at how extensively their case had been studied by our fertility specialists.

“I think the longer you have treatment the more difficult it becomes. When you begin there’s a naivety along the lines of, ‘we’ll have one, maybe two goes at IVF and have a baby in our arms’. After 7 treatments (and lots of add-ons) the feelings completely change. You feel terrified that it won’t work, and you’ll never become parents. You’re scared it will work and you’ll lose the baby again (Laura and Ian have experienced 5 losses). You’re scared of physically going through the treatment as you’ve had so much. Each test and treatment creates fear – fear that it will hurt, be traumatizing, that it will give you more bad news. Then there’s the impact on your own mental health and emotional well-being. Can I handle this? What if the results say something’s wrong with me? Will I blame myself? It starts to really damage your mental health and well-being. Financially you start to feel that you’re risking everything, and it may not pay off.

For us we have renewed hope with IVF Spain. We have undergone tests that we’ve never had before (ERA, NK biopsy and KIR). We have paid for lots of very expensive blood tests and drugs but never received this kind of analysis. So, we feel as though the treatment is now specifically for us.

This creates more positivity, a feeling of being cared for and that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to be parents.

Plus, we’re now using donor eggs. The hope starts to soar and with that comes excitement. Hope is the only thing that keeps you going and overcoming the fears I mentioned. This opportunity with IVF Spain has given us hope that we thought we’d lost.”

Laura is 41 years old and has already been through traumatic losses including an ectopic pregnancy. Due to this and to the fact that Laura suffers from recurrent miscarriage, our medical team at IVF Spain recommended an egg donation treatment to increase their chances.

The couple is thankful for the egg donation process being anonymous, as otherwise it would be really difficult to find a donor:

“For us, it’s taken some of the pressure away. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to choose a donor ourselves. But putting your complete trust into someone else’s hands is hard.

We’ve explored whether it would be better for our future child to know the donor. I think that’s something we’ll never know. But we hope that he/she will understand our decision to choose an anonymous donor. It would be good to know a little more about the heritage of the donor but then we also know that we often don’t even know our own heritage. We’ll make sure Spain is a key part of their story.

It’s also really odd to not know who this person is. What they look like and personality. What’s motivating them to help us. One of the things I’ve been really consumed with is the gratitude you have for this person. I’d like to thank them but can’t.

Anonymity means we have a chance to become parents. Without it there’d be a shortage of donors like there is in the UK. For us, this makes it a wonderful gift – a chance to hopefully find a donor that is perfectly matched to us genetically (due to the KIR tests) as well as in physical looks.

I can’t stop thinking about what our future child will look like – but I think that’s quite normal” says Laura.

Immunologically speaking, finding a matching donor for Laura is certainly a challenging task, which is why IVF Spain suggested that we find out her KIR via a blood test. Ian was also tested for his HLA-C in order to determine whether the maternal – foetal interaction will be optimal or not.

Thanks to the KIR-HLA-C genotyping test it is possible to determine if the uterine KIR and the embryonic HLA-C will both be compatible. If so, the pregnancy will carry on successfully; if not, then the most probable outcome will be an unviable pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage.

“We carried out the KIR-HLA-C genotyping and concluded that the patient had a KIR AA. It is known that KIR expressed by the natural killer cells present in the maternal part and the HLA presented by the trophoblastic cells together will influence the outcome of the pregnancy. With Laura’s KIR AA variant, the sperm would have to be HLA C1 C1 and the HLA of the donor should be as well HLA C1 C1; as her husband has a HLA C1 C2 variant, we will treat her with a medication that reduces her immune-genetic reaction. We believe that not paying attention to this issue in the past is what may have caused the implantation to fail” suspects fertility specialist Dr Isabel Herrera.

We tend to recommend a single embryo transfer, as it has been proven that on patients with an immunological profile such as Laura’s, double embryo transfers would increase the immunogenetic reaction, hindering the achievement of a pregnancy” says Dr. Herrera.

It is also known that these cases tend to have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, late spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.

Until their transfer day the couple will try to enjoy summer just as any other couple would;

“I’ve tried to just carry on as normal. Remain healthy, take pre-conception vitamins. Reach out and get support through the Donor Conception Network in the UK and connect with other people going down the DE route via online forums. It’s quite isolating and scary so it’s important to reach out and not feel so alone.

I’m trying to relax a little – not so easy with work but it’s a work in progress. I need to get that bit sorted now treatment is on the horizon.”

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Fertility Journeys

Laura & Ian Fertility Journey Couple 2018



Laura and Ian IVF Spain

Laura and Ian are this year’s Fertility Road Magazine Runner-ups with IVF Spain. During their initial consultation with our specialist Dr. Herrera they were able to clarify all their doubts and were provided with a level of patient care, they had never experienced before throughout their 7-year-long journey. It was a completely different experience for Ian as well; this time he felt like a human being rather than a number.

You can find out more about their fertility journey here.

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