The gift of birth -first in vitro fertilization facility opens in Mindanao

THE FIRST in vitro fertilization facility in Mindanao formally opened in the Woman Center of Brokenshire Hospital last October 28 with hopes to reach out to couples in the region who are part of the 10-12% in the world and in the country who are going through challenges on fertility.

Dr. Veronica Deniega, acting chairperson of the obstetrics and gynecology department of the hospital said that this key populations should not be left out in terms of giving out medical services especially for reproduction. “These are social situations that couples face here and around the world,” Deniega said. “This is the segment of the society that shouldn’t be neglected have right to children.”

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DRA. Maria Lourdes Cabling, Chairperson of IVF Davao, welcomes guests to the newly opened In Vitro Facility at the Brokenshire Women Center.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Cabling, chair of the In-Vitro Fertilization Davao, Inc. (IVF Davao) said that this number is from the national census of the Philippine Obstetric and Gynecological Society where she presides as the president for Mindanao.

Without mentioning numbers, Cabling said that infertility cases continue to rise in number here and abroad. She said that this may be attributed to lifestyle: how many couples shift priority on career over birth.

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THE RESIDENT OB-Gynecologists of Brokenshire Hospital

Other factors that affect infertility include medical conditions, obesity, sexually transmitted infections. Exposure to extreme working conditions also affect reproductive abilities of both men and women.

Through IVF technology, medical experts will be able to help a couple conceive a child by collecting ovum of a woman and have this fertilized by a male sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg will then be transferred back to the uterus.

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THE DAVAO Fertility Specialists with their guests/mentors Drs Leonardo Almeda ( Cardinal Santos Medical Center ) Concepcion Oreta & Delfin Tan ( St. Luke’s Medical Center) 802: Davao’s finest Obstetrician- Gynecologists along with fertility experts from all over the Philippines and representatives from the Department of Health

Cabling said that IVF’s arrival in Davao City and in Mindanao will change the way people look at in vitro fertilization.

“It should open their minds,” she said, mentioning how, in the past, people used to look at this process to be so out of this world. “But if you look at the process, it’s easy, simple, and the tech is available.”

At least four medical experts will be focusing on IVF and its services. By opening the IVF, Brokenshire Hospital is able to pave a path for a future where they hope to become a medical establishment with advanced reproductive technology and venture into services and training and research.

The going rate for the services, Cabling said, will largely depend on the age of the client. Age is always related to success ratio.

She said that for someone who’s 30 years old, services will start at P300,000. But clients older than that will likely spend more because as we mature, the female human body produces less eggs. “The success rate goes down to five percent when we age beyond 40,” Cabling said. The rate will include supporting medications.

Pre- and post-treatment infertility counseling will be free during select weekends in the coming months and by appointments.

Cabling said that a package programs are also being explored so that these can assist clients in loan applications in the near future. She added that IVF is creating mechanisms to have lower costs possible to reach out to more couples.

The 25-30 million-peso worth of technology that the hospital bought from Europe, along with medical expertise, will come in as mediators in situations where no amount of surgery and medication can achieve pregnancy.

Counseling and information drives remain one of the priorities of the facility. Cabling said that they want to be able to reach out to key populations and direct their needs to available resources and proper guidance.

In Mindanao, she said that there continue to be recurring challenges on acceptance and making the first step to solve infertility problems.

The issue on cost and how to make the tech available for them is also a challenge to some. But the doctors are optimistic that through proper counseling, “we can make this work rather than just believing in destiny,” Cabling said.

Cabling also mentioned that she wants to be able to send out a message that infertility is not solely caused by the woman. A common misconception she said is that a woman always blames herself as the problem.

“We want to correct those myths on infertility,” she said. “We have to explain to them that this is not an individual problem.”

Cabling said that the current take home baby rate in the country is at about 40-50 percent. She has high hopes that for IVF, the same or a higher number will be in fruition.

Before the facility even started its operations, last November 1, Cabling said that several clients have already pre-booked for consultations and initial testicular biopsy for men.

Cabling, along with experts from her department said that Mindanao is ready for the technology, as reflected in the many couples that have been sending inquiries about it. She compared this from five to six years ago of when this tech appears as foreign to them.

For the month of November, there are five men and three female candidates who are booked for appointments. On December and January, there are eight couples who have already expressed interest in the services of IVF.

She said that the hospital is also preparing for the ASEAN integration to accommodate even for foreign clients.

The first IVF clinic in the country opened in Manila in September in 1989.

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