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FERTILITY JOURNEYS

Oregon’s Chris and Anne Welcome Their Baby Girl

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Chris & Anne Last Weekend Alone

We are excited to announce the birth of Chris and Anne’s baby girl – the first Fertility Journey baby with Oregon Reproductive Medicine. Now that Chris and Anne close their fertility journey they start the wonderful journey ahead for them as a family!

Anne writes…
9 weeks to go… this felt both very soon and very far away. Our little girl was due to grow a huge amount in that time and I was to get bigger and bigger.

Having had a rest from appointments, they restarted with a vengeance during this period. The consultant wanted me to have scans every 3 then every 2 weeks to check that she was continuing to grow adequately. I enjoyed these as it meant I could have another peek at my little girl moving around, usually with her feet in front of her face! The midwife also booked me in every 3 weeks for a check-up, blood pressure, a feel of her position and a quick listen to her heartbeat. These were also nice to know that all was progressing normally.

Our ante-natal classes continued for a total of 6 sessions. We enjoyed going to these and continued seeing our group socially afterwards. Our most notable session was educating us on breast-feeding. The men had a lesson using knitted breasts and dolls, a sight to see with much hilarity. Then they had to teach the ladies with varying degrees of success! Hearing about the other ladies’ experiences was interesting; I felt very lucky to have had no reflux or swollen leg issues, and no pelvic pain or back ache.

Last Selfie 10 Days To Go

As time went on we finally succumbed to preparing the nursery and buying our essential items. With 3 weeks to go, our large order of cot bed, car seat, travel system, changing unit, cute bed linen, etc… was delivered. One part of the changing unit was lost on the way, in fact had been delivered to another person we later found out. This caused some consternation as they could not deliver it for another 10 days…so we were constructing the changing unit the weekend before our due date! We decided to paint a mural on the wall on the nursery, and this was completed in the couple of weeks run up to delivery date. We trawled the internet for ideas and eventually chose a tree with owls. It was actually lots of fun painting on the wall! But we were finally ready and prepared for our little one to arrive!

I had many comments on the neatness of my bump, so I decided to document it properly and arranged a maternity photo session. This I had done 10 days before due date. The session was great fun and we have a selection of gorgeous images with which to remember my bump. I also took my own final selfie. I felt I looked really massive now! But in truth, people were only just starting to notice and were amazed when they learnt the due date was in a couple of weeks. Our little girl was getting very active now with only a week or so to go. My bump would occasionally show a Mexican wave as her hands, feet and bum wafted around! I loved watching and feeling her move around, a special time together.

Our last appointment with the consultant was three days before the planned caesarean date. Chris came with me and we discussed our birth plan, some of which was possible and some was not. But having a caesarean meant that much of the normal choices that mothers make were not applicable to us, such as choice of pain relief, location, and position of birth. We were told that it would not be possible to have skin to skin contact with my daughter immediately but that she would need to be dried and wrapped first. However, Chris would be able to cut the umbilical cord, although he was not so sure about this! Then we signed our consent forms and went off to enjoy our last weekend as a couple…

Painting Nursery

Caesarean day arrived! We arrived at the hospital at 7am ready to go and slightly nervous about what would happen during the day. After one last blood test, we waited for our turn to go to theatre. We ended up being the last of the three planned caesareans that day so it was not till lunchtime that we were taken down. I was majorly hungry by that time to the point of nausea and vomiting. But once we were on our way, adrenaline kicked in and I felt fine again thankfully.

The surgical team, midwives and anaesthetists were all wonderful, relaxed and jovial. They scanned my back before placing the spinal needle for the spinal anaesthetic, then my legs felt progressively cold and then numbness spread down to my toes and up to my rib cage. I was worried it would spread too far up and affect my breathing and also that I would not be numb enough, but I need not have been concerned, the anaesthesia was perfect. The screen went up to shield the surgical field, and Chris was by my head dressed in scrubs and a flattering surgical cap! Within a few minutes, my little girl could be heard! A very good pair of lungs she had, and wanted to let everyone know she had arrived. In fact, she was given straight to me, still covered in vernix so I did have my skin to skin cuddle straightaway! Then she was taken away and washed, weighed and checked over before coming back to me and Chris. We went out to the recovery room and she had her first suckle on my breast – result!

Trip Home From Hospital

I was taken to the ward to continue my recovery. It took a few hours before I was able to be helped out of bed and had the use of my legs again. Chris stayed with me until dinner time and we had a visit from the new proud grandparents! Overnight I was awake most of the night trying to keep an eye on my new precious bundle and calling the midwives to help me feed her every few hours. Quite a nerve wracking experience, watching her to make sure she continued breathing, although she was right next to me in a ‘beside the bed cot’. The next morning, we visited the paediatrician who checked my little girl out, the midwife came to show me how to bath her and I had a few chats with the midwives about the best way to feed her. By lunchtime they were pleased with our progress and we were discharged! Chris took us home and then we were on our own, a new family!

After the past 2 years of fertility treatment, a roller coaster of emotions and a happy pregnancy, we had finally realised our dream! Our little bundle of love had arrived! Now all we had to do was name her!!

13 Days Old
We want to thank ORM and all their lovely team we met on our journey from the bottom of our hearts for making all this possible. Until this moment we had not dared to believe it would happen. But it has, and our new addition is just perfect! Two weeks on and the hard work has really started… Babies seem to just want to sleep in the day and wake up all through the night! Despite that, we are still grinning and she is growing and thriving. We had a newborn photo session with the same photographer and now have some gorgeous keepsakes to treasure forever.

Congratulations to Chris and Anne from Oregon Reproductive Medicine

The entire team at ORM is filled with joy for Chris and Anne and we offer them our heartfelt congratulations! Helping our patients realise their hopes of building a family is what drives us every day to try and deliver the highest standards of care and the very best chance of success on the first attempt. Chris and Anne’s experience with ORM has been exactly how we hope donor egg IVF treatment at ORM to progress for all our patients. Chris and Anne were able to find a donor that was right for them; with the application of reproductive genomic screening we were able to be confident that their choice of donor was a good match for the future health of their baby and we were able to transfer an embryo that had screened as chromosomally normal, providing the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and baby; Anne’s first transfer was successful and it’s been a normal pregnancy and delivery; and now they are home safely settling into their new roles as parents.

We are grateful and feel honoured that Chris and Anne have shared their journey with us, and we wish them every health and happiness as a family!

Day 2 At Home

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EGG DONATION

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

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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 arrives 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.

Laura and Ian IVF Spain

“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 trisomy 22 syndrome, 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, a 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

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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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FERTILITY JOURNEYS

Interview with Dimitrius Kavakas from Redia IVF Travel

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Redia IVF Travel

While the doctors are busy assessing the couples that have applied for this truly wonderful offer of free treatment at their clinic in Crete we sat down with Dimitrius founder of Redia IVF Travel for a bit of Q&A.

Q: Redia Ltd has been a business consultancy for Fertility Clinics. What made you develop the IVF Travel Portal?

A: It was during my years of experience of trying to communicate with patients on behalf of fertility clinics that I realized what patients really look for. This is not just a treatment but the drive to make their dream come true. So the three main elements that concern patients, particularly in the UK, became our concerns in order to try to bring out solutions for them.

Q: Which are those elements you are talking about?

A: The main element is success. They get into a process that is not easy nor pleasant with the goal of becoming parents. The second element is affordability since they do not know how much they will keep on spending until they reach their goal. This unknown cost is really scary for many fertility patients. Finally, the third element is time. Fertility has a clock and is ticking fast. Being in an NHS waiting time may be detrimental to the patient’s fertility levels.

Q: So what does IVF Travel offer in response to these three elements?

A: What we do is offer multi-cycle refund guarantee IVF programmes so that we can either offer success, in which case the main goal of the patient is achieved at a set price that they know from the beginning, or we refund the cost of the programme up to 100% so as to take away the financial uncertainty from patients. In addition, we do that by offering affordable prices by having our patients travel to other countries where they can have low cost treatment without any waiting time.

Dimitris Kavakas

Q: By offering lower cost than UK clinics do you not discount on quality also?

A: No, in actual fact, our partner clinics offer an equal and sometimes much better quality than UK clinics. What you find in countries such as Spain, Greece and Czech Republic, for example, is that clinics focus more on the individual and each patient feels that they are really taken care of. In addition, most of our partner clinics have lab infrastructures that can only be found in the most expensive UK private clinics.

Q: Do you have a way to screen clinics and ensure quality?

A: It is in our vested interest to do so. You see, we are risking paying refunds back to patients since our business model is like an insurance. We earn more when our patients have quick success. So that is why we make sure that we only work with clinics that deliver high quality of services and results.

Q: You talk about affordability; can you give us an idea of the cost?

A: The cost of the programmes would depend on many factors. One is the individual clinic and country of choice since prices of treatment fluctuate between clinics and between countries. In addition, the success rates of each clinic determine their prices. There is also a risk element that affects prices, so female patient’s age group is also one of the factors. Overall, I would say that on average, the cost of a 3 cycle IVF programme with all medication included as well as methods such as blastocyst culture, ICSI, IMSI, Macs, assisted hatching and embryoscope time lapse, including embryo freezing costs, would be similar or slightly more expensive than a single cycle of IVF at a UK private clinic.

Q: Are there conditions of eligibility to enter the programme?

A: Yes, there are conditions, however, in practice we accept almost 90% of interested patients. There are age conditions regarding the type of treatment and the refund percentage. Women up to 37 years of age can have a 100% refund guarantee. Women between 38 to 39 years old can become eligible but only with 50% refund. From 40 years and over, patients can only get into a 100% refund programme if they enroll in one of our Egg Donation or Embryo Donation programme, which have no age limit. In addition to the age criteria, there are a few basic medical conditions that patients should meet to enter into the programme. We ask for specific screening test which are assessed by our medical experts to evaluate eligibility. If everything is OK, they sign a contract and start treatment.

Q: What if there is a discomfort of patients at a particularly clinic they did the first cycle? Do they have to stick with that clinic for all the cycles of the programme?

A: No, patients have every right to change the clinic they have treatment at between cycles. If the cost of the programme at a clinic they wish to transfer is higher, they would just pay the difference.

Q: Do you offer any payment schedule to help patients with their payments for the treatment?

A: At the moment what we can do is spread the cost of the 50% of the payment over 6 equal monthly installments without any interest. We do ask however for a 50% deposit.

Q: Do you only work with UK patients and where are the most popular country destinations?

A: We work with patients globally, so no, we are not limiting our services to UK patients. Currently we work with clinics in Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Turkey, India, Malaysia and Mexico. The popularity of a destination depends on the patient origin. UK patients prefer Spain, Greece and Czech Republic mainly, Australian patients prefer Malaysia and North American patients prefer Mexico.

More information on Redia IVF Travel can be found on their website www.ivftravel.com.

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