Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2014 Contents CONTINUES FROM PAGE A33
Under the system, if a couple is experi-
encing problems due to male factor (low
sperm count), the woman in the couple can
volunteer to donate eggs to the clinic, for the
benefit of other women to use for IVF, and
in exchange can receive IVF treatment them-
selves for $5,000.
This would have made a huge difference
to women like Sherma Dyer (name changed)
Now aged 43, she and her husband began
trying for a baby before they turned 25. They
could not conceive and eventually went to a
gynaecologist (there were no fertility clinics
back then, TTIFC was established 17 years
ago) who prescribed Clomid---the most com-
monly used fertility-aid drug.
When that didn t work she had an oper-
ation to clear her blocked ovaries but, she
says: "After a while I guess we kind of gave
up. It was very costly to keep returning."
At her age egg-sharing is no longer an
option. In the end the couple adopted and
now have a six-year-old child.
Adoption is an option Minto-Bain recom-
mends to many of her patients.
"We have a good adoption board here in
T&T," she says. "We spend a lot of time
talking to people about their options. These
people are real. To go ahead with IVF they
might have to re-mortgage a house, sell a
car... Sometimes I tell them honestly IVF
won t work for them, so go for sperm donors
The TTIFC, unlike some clinics in the
region, does not market itself heavily. "It s a
fine line between selling a product and selling
dreams that are unobtainable. Many women
won t get pregnant through IVF," she says.
At the other end of the scale, the more
recent clinic in the Caribbean, the Barbados
Fertility Centre (BFC) has been publicising
its services more aggressively.
Last month the BFC held a free conference
in Port-of-Spain for people interested in IVF.
Established in 2002 by Dr Juliet Skinner
it prides itself on being JCI accredited, the
only fertility clinic with such accreditation
in the Caribbean. Its marketing literature
boasts that women travel from across the
Caribbean and the world for treatment.
IVF treatments at the BFC are expensive.
At US$5,500-6,500 it is an option that normal
Trinidadians and Tobagonians might struggle
Simpler treatments such as intra-uterine
insemination---the introduction of prepared
sperm into the uterus---costs $375.
Speaking to the two women, one gets a
sense of the competitiveness of the industry.
Minto-Bain describes the JCI as "a mar-
keting tool for the US medical population,
not IVF accreditation."
In the Bajan corner, Dr Juliet Skinner, con-
sultant gynaecologist at the clinic, says that
"other clinics in the Caribbean do not work
to a recognised accredited standard." A claim
Minto-Bain rejects, saying her clinics and
services in Maraval and St Joseph are regularly
inspected by accreditors working to the UK s
Minto-Bain says her multiple-pregnancy
rates are very low: 3.8 per cent of conceptions
"You need a low multiple-pregnancy rate
in Trinidad because the public health system
can t cope with too many births and there
is no private care. It s not fair to overload the
system with twins and triplets."
Skinner, meanwhile, focuses on the success
rates of her clinic, saying 80 per cent of
women under the age of 35 achieved preg-
nancy after treatment.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, April 15, 2014
• Women are born with seven million eggs. Microscopic in size, they are released
throughout the woman's life in monthly ovulations, until she reaches menopausal age.
• Men are not born producing sperm but begin to at puberty and continue to produce
sperm, typically beyond the age of the female menopause
• The first ever test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in Oldham, England, on July 25,
1978, after her mother was treated with the first IVF procedure by Patrick Steptoe and
Robert Edwards. Edwards was later awarded the 2010 Nobel prize for medicine. It took
175 IVF treatments before Brown was conceived.
• Low sperm count in men is usually genetic but can also be due to lifestyle, injury,
• nformation on National Infertility Awareness Week can be found at the Web site
Read part two of our feature on fertility
in tomorrow's Life section with an
exclusive interview with Dr Juliet
Skinner of Barbados Fertility Centre.
IVF a costly
Dr Catherine Minto-Bain at
work in her clinic the T&T IVF
Fertility Centre in Maraval.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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