Growing Number of Brits Cross the Atlantic for Donor Egg IVF Treatment at Shady Grove Fertility Center
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More and more couples from the United Kingdom are crossing the ocean for donor egg treatment at Shady Grove Fertility Center, the Washington/Baltimore area's largest in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fertility clinic. More than five dozen British patients received IVF treatment there last year, which was a 350-percent increase over 2007; most were donor egg recipients.
In a reversal of the medical tourism flow of Americans overseas in search of less costly elective medical procedures, many British fertility patients who need to use donor eggs rather than their own are flocking to Shady Grove Fertility Center (SGFC). In the UK, where egg donors are neither paid nor guaranteed anonymity, donor eggs are scarce, wait times can be as long as three years and choice of donor is limited. In contrast, Shady Grove Fertility not only pays donors, but also offers an innovative way to reduce waiting time and cost for donor eggs. In addition to the traditional donor egg method of matching each donor with a single recipient, Shady Grove Fertility Center patients also have the option of enrolling in what's called "Shared Donor Egg," a unique program through which one donor's eggs may be shared by two or three recipients. Whichever option a patient selects, pregnancy rates are comparable.
The collaborative treatment process involves only two visits to SGFC per cycle of donor egg treatment. On the first visit to SGFC, the male partner's sperm is frozen and an egg donor is selected. The couple then returns to the UK, where an SGFC partner clinic provides additional treatment and support -- such as hormone injections to prepare the woman's uterus for pregnancy -- while SGFC harvests the donor's eggs and fertilizes them in vitro with the thawed sperm. Only then does the couple return to Maryland for embryo transfer. This streamlined, trans-Atlantic system results in pregnancy success rates comparable to those of couples using fresh sperm.
"In some countries, infertility treatments are very limited or restricted and may even be illegal," said Michael J. Levy, M.D., Shady Grove Fertility Center's founder, who in late 2007 began establishing relationships with doctors and fertility clinics in the UK. "We at Shady Grove Fertility are proud that word has reached the other side of the Atlantic about our innovative financing programs, our strong emphasis on quality patient care, and our outstanding IVF success rates."
Using the UK program as a model, SGFC has a late June trip planned to Ireland to explore setting up a similar set of relationships with potential partner clinics, as well as interested patients.
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