By Maya M. Padillo
A first in Mindanao, the P30-million fertility center is now open in the city to help couples overcome a variety of infertility diagnosis.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical treatment that has helped thousands of couples worldwide overcome a wide variety of infertility diagnoses enabling them to realize their dreams of becoming parents. IVF also helps infertile couples become pregnant by joining the egg and sperm together in an embryology laboratory where embryos are created that can later be transferred back into the woman’s uterus. The first IVF baby was born in 1979 in UK. It was in 1989-90 when IVF started in the Philippines.
In layman’s term it’s called test tube baby like making babies in the laboratory,” said Dr. Darlene Estuart, one of the incorporators of IVF facility located at the Brokenshire Integrated hospital and Ministries (BIHMI).
Dr. Maria Lourdes Cabling, also an incorporator and fertility expert, said they decided to open the facility to address the increasing infertility cases not only in the Philippines but globally.
Cabling said infertility rate increases 10 to 12 percent annually based on the national census of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and the Philippine Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
She said the increase is due to a change in mindset of the couple nowadays such as couples, who want more time for career before having a baby and shift of career. Other conditions that caused infertility are obesity, dysmenorrheal (endometriosis), STI (major factor of infertility), exposure to pesticides due to work related, and extreme heat (for seafarers).
“There are situations wherein this technology can only address because even if some are taking medications still pregnancy can’t achieve,” Cabling said. When it comes to the success over failure of the procedure, Cabling said it depends on the age range.
“Indications to go for an IVF example – there are males that have zero sperm count what we do – we get the sperm from the testicles and undergo biopsy to check if there are sperms there or not,” said Dr. Jeanmarie Salvador, another facility incorporator.
Salvador said there are some women that do not ovulate or having problems in their fallopian tubes, this is where the egg and sperm undergo fertilization. “So you do the fertilization outside of the body in the laboratory. When fertilized it will be transferred in the uterus,” she said.
Estuart detailed the procedure of IVF. “It is still the baby’s couple. They just cannot do it in a natural way,” she emphasized.
All-in-all the procedure will take two weeks from the laboratory to insemination. Then wait for another two weeks if the woman gets pregnant.
Estuart said the technology should open the minds of the people in Mindanao. “In the past it used to be taken as very esoteric. But if you look at the understanding you can see that it is easily done and simple,” she said.
According to Estuart, the successful procedure will result to a take home baby but if failed the woman will get miscarriage. She said in the Philippines take home baby rate is 40 to 50 percent.
Estuart said the IVF facility also aims to lower the costs for those who want to access the technology considering that most of the centers are in Manila. Presently, IVF facilities are available in Manila with four facilities, one in Cebu City, and one in Davao.
The facility offers rate packages depending on the age. For a 30-year-old patient, the initial rate package is P285,000. The package costs could reach up to P450,000. The center will also assist with bank loans and financing. In the future, an in-house loan will be available.
“If you are younger around 30 years old – we’re talking about 80 percent but if you are 40 years old the chances fluctuate around five percent,” said Dr. Irene Uy.
Cabling admitted there challenges in the Mindanao market such as acceptance of the technology; raising awareness on the technology exists; andaffor-dability of the technology.
“We will just encourage the market that this is worth investing,” Cabling said.
Another incorporator Dr. Veronica Deniega said there are several misconceptions about infertility but the IVF center they will correct myths and misconceptions about infertility.
“We have to explain to them that this is a couple’s problem and this is a global misconception. This is a segment of a society that should not be neglected. They have the right to have children. We already have the technology for them to access,” Deniega said.