Build­ing FAM­I­LIES


Pride Life Magazine - - Advertorial -

What makes La Jolla IVF dif­fer­ent from the thou­sands of IVF clin­ics around the world? Suc­cess rates (for sure); the fact that we have done more surrogacy cases than most; more gay surrogacy (defini­tively); egg donor cases too, and more than our fair share of in­tran­si­gent, dif­fi­cult cases, that other cen­tres might not even have treated.

Thou­sands of ba­bies have been born with the help­ing hands of Dr David B. Smotrich and La Jolla IVF since the clinic was founded. The chil­dren span the globe, liv­ing in 86 coun­tries around the world, on ev­ery con­ti­nent, from the beaches of Ipanema, Brazil, to the South China Sea, from re­motest Africa, to sunny Aus­tralia and pris­tine New Zealand, from the cool shores of the Bri­tish Isles, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, to the Mid­dle East, Far East, the Pa­cific Rim, South Amer­ica, North Amer­ica, all 50 states in the USA, Canada and Cen­tral Amer­ica.

La Jolla IVF has be­come one of the lead­ing fer­til­ity clin­ics for LGBT fam­ily build­ing around the world. The La Jolla IVF team and Dr. Smotrich un­der­stand the unique chal­lenges fac­ing gay and les­bian parenting op­tions. Over the past ten years, La Jolla IVF has per­formed more than 550 gay surrogacy cy­cles with a suc­cess rate of over 80% on the first at­tempt.

La Jolla IVF of­fers a wide ar­ray of treat­ments for LGBT pa­tients. For ex­am­ple, Dr. Smotrich tai­lors spe­cific pro­to­cols for sin­gle and gay male pa­tients in­clud­ing op­tions for two-fa­ther fam­i­lies where both men are in­volved in the treat­ment cy­cle and an em­bryo from each part­ner is trans­ferred into the sur­ro­gate, cre­at­ing an out­come of twins — one baby from each fa­ther. Al­ter­na­tively, many cou­ples opt to re­turn to La Jolla IVF after their first baby is born to un­dergo a sib­ling cy­cle so that both part­ners have one child in each cy­cle.

The La Jolla IVF team and Dr. Smotrich pro­vide per­sonal at­ten­tion in a bou­tique set­ting, but, mostly pa­tients tell us, it is our hu­man­ity, com­pas­sion and our abil­ity to em­pathise — that spe­cial some­thing that leaves pa­tients feel­ing that no stone has been left un­turned in the quest for suc­cess, that the ba­sic tenet of hu­man­ity has not been lost in the fray of their treat­ments and pro­ce­dures. The hu­man touch, the car­ing and the true mis­sion and prin­ci­ples upon which the clinic was founded are still be­ing pre­served ev­ery day and in ev­ery way.

La Jolla IVF is not sim­ply a fer­til­ity business, but a home away from home for those seek­ing to ful­fill a hu­man need. Long after the treat­ment is over, whether suc­cess­ful or not (and in gay cases in more than 80% of the time it is!), pa­tients can still feel kin­ship with the per­son­nel and the doc­tor and know that their lives were touched and that the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self, no mat­ter how stress­ful, was one where they did not walk alone, but felt sup­ported and aware at a fun­da­men­tal level that all who were in­volved in their care tried their best. This is what sets La Jolla IVF apart.

The team at La Jolla IVF led by Dr. Smotrich are hon­oured to have con­trib­uted in some way to the thou­sands of ba­bies that live around the world and who bring joy to their par­ents. We har­bour the hope that one day when th­ese chil­dren have fam­i­lies of their own, we will still be here for them to visit us with the next gen­er­a­tion. For truly, the great­est gift of all is that of Life and so the cy­cle con­tin­ues.

La Jolla IVF is more than just a baby-mak­ing ma­chine. We hope and trust it is the epit­ome of a mar­riage be­tween Sci­ence and Soul.

“La Jolla IVF is not sim­ply a fer­til­ity business, but a home away from home for those seek­ing to ful­fill a

hu­man need”

When was La Jolla IVF founded?

In 1997, one of the first cases that Dr. Smotrich took care of as a pri­vate re­pro­duc­tive physi­cian in­volved a gay male cou­ple. About 15 years ago, a gay male cou­ple de­sir­ing to start a fam­ily ap­proached Dr. Smotrich to per­form an egg do­na­tion/ ges­ta­tional surrogacy case for them. At this time, Dr. Smotrich still used an IVF lab­o­ra­tory that was at­tached to a hos­pi­tal and there­fore he had to ask the hos­pi­tal per­mis­sion to ex­e­cute the case. The hos­pi­tal it­self agreed in prin­ci­ple but sev­eral staff mem­bers had is­sues. As a re­sult, Dr. Smotrich had to move the case to another IVF lab­o­ra­tory. It was this case that gave Dr. Smotrich the im­pe­tus to build his own cen­tre with its own op­er­at­ing room and at­tached IVF lab­o­ra­tory. From th­ese hum­ble begin­nings, La Jolla IVF was “born”. The no­tion that all who de­sire a fam­ily should be able to avail them­selves of treat­ment is one of the un­der­pin­nings of La Jolla IVF’s mis­sion.

What ser­vices does La Jolla IVF of­fer les­bian cou­ples want­ing a child?

La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich of­fer a full ar­ray of re­pro­duc­tive ser­vices to les­bian cou­ples – from low tech to high tech. Les­bian cou­ples (sin­gles) can use a sperm donor (ei­ther fresh or frozen sperm from a known sperm donor or frozen sperm sam­ples from a sperm bank). De­pend­ing on the par­tic­u­lar­i­ties of the case, the cou­ple can then ei­ther have ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion or, if needs be, can pro­ceed di­rectly to IVF. In some cou­ples we have seen both part­ners want to be preg­nant at the same time so both fe­males want to carry the preg­nancy; in other cou­ples one of the part­ners may do­nate the eggs and the other part­ner may carry the baby. We have had many les­bian cou­ples who, for the first child, the one part­ner gives the eggs and the other part­ner car­ries the preg­nancy and when they come back for baby num­ber 2 or 3 they change the part­ner as to who do­nates the eggs and the other part­ner then car­ries the baby or ba­bies (as it turns out from time to time).

La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich have also been in­volved in cre­at­ing fam­i­lies for sev­eral trans­gen­der pa­tients from other coun­tries — es­pe­cially some cou­ples from the United King­dom. We are proud to re­port that in this par­tic­u­lar pa­tient cat­e­gory, even though the cases are quite com­pli­cated, all of th­ese cou­ples have left La Jolla IVF preg­nant (in one way or another).

What ser­vices does La Jolla IVF of­fer to gay men want­ing to have a child?

Gay males want­ing to have a child/ chil­dren for ob­vi­ous rea­sons need to use both an egg donor and a sur­ro­gate. We rec­om­mend a ges­ta­tional sur­ro­gate as this form of surrogacy has the high­est suc­cess rate as well as be­ing the safest in terms of le­gal­i­ties. Over the many years that Dr. Smotrich and La Jolla IVF have been in­volved with treat­ing gay male sin­gles and cou­ples, we have been priv­i­leged to have worked with some of the old­est, most ex­pe­ri­enced and com­pre­hen­sive egg donor and sur­ro­gate agen­cies. We as­sisted the pa­tients in choos­ing the best egg donors and sur­ro­gates for their case and their par­tic­u­lar needs. We are aware that some other IVF cen­tres have their “own donor and /or sur­ro­gate agen­cies”. La Jolla IVF has al­ways be­lieved that there is some in­her­ent sense of con­flict in the doc­tor “own­ing” an agency as then cer­tain egg donors and sur­ro­gates are per­haps “pushed” in some way onto the pa­tients. We find that if the pa­tients can have a wide ar­ray of choice in terms of both egg donors and sur­ro­gates, then their treat­ment cy­cles are in­vari­ably more suc­cess­ful.

Some gay cou­ples wish to use only one of the part­ners’ sperm with an egg donor and sur­ro­gate. In other cases both part­ners want to be in­volved and they both give sperm for the case. In this sit­u­a­tion, the egg donors’ eggs are split be­tween the two mem­bers of the cou­ple and we then have em­bryos that are cre­ated from both part­ners. Many of our gay cou­ples also want the re­sult­ing em­bryos to be tested by PGD (pre-im­plan­ta­tion ge­netic di­ag­no­sis) in which case we can test which em­bryos are nor­mal chro­mo­so­ma­lly ver­sus not and in fact the sex (male ver­sus fe­male) can also be de­ter­mined. Many of our gay cou­ples de­cide to place one em­bryo each and usu­ally one of each sex. This is a very suc­cess­ful treat­ment with suc­cess rates over 80%. We do en­cour­age pa­tients to con­sider that it is prob­a­bly bet­ter med­i­cally to have a sin­gle­ton rather than mul­ti­ple preg­nancy for both the baby and the ges­ta­tional car­rier but for those cou­ples who want to place an em­bryo from each, we are will­ing to do so if the sur­ro­gate is agree­able and all is­sues of this na­ture have been worked out be­tween all the par­ties.

Which forms of surrogacy are avail­able?

There are two forms of surrogacy: tra­di­tional surrogacy where the sur­ro­gate is ge­net­i­cally re­lated to the child (as she do­nates the eggs as well as car­ry­ing the child). This form of surrogacy can be per­formed via ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion or IVF; and ges­ta­tional surrogacy where the sur­ro­gate acts only as the car­rier and has no ge­netic link to the child as an egg donor do­nates the eggs for the cy­cle.

La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich rec­om­mend ges­ta­tional surrogacy over tra­di­tional surrogacy as the pre­ferred method of hav­ing a baby so there are no le­gal or psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues with the sur­ro­gate. We have never had any prob­lems in the past but there may have been is­sues in some other clin­ics and so our

choice is ges­ta­tional surrogacy. Be­sides which, we have found that the preg­nancy rates are con­sid­er­ably higher in ges­ta­tional surrogacy than tra­di­tional surrogacy - which after all counts for a great deal!

Is there a typ­i­cal LGBT per­son or cou­ple who comes to La Jolla IVF?

There is not a typ­i­cal LGBT per­son/cou­ple who comes to La Jolla IVF for our ser­vices. We have pa­tients from many coun­tries, and all 50 states in the USA who come to our clinic for treat­ment. We have sin­gle males, gay cou­ples, sin­gle les­bians, les­bian cou­ples, cou­ples who were straight and later in life de­cided to come out and trans­gen­der sin­gles and cou­ples. No two pa­tients whether they are gay or straight are “typ­i­cal”. All are in­di­vid­ual and spe­cial and all their cases are treated on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis.

How does one go about choos­ing a sur­ro­gate?

La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich work with many rep­utable agen­cies that we rec­om­mend pa­tients to. The pa­tients them­selves should in­ter­view (over the phone) sev­eral agen­cies and ei­ther choose one or even ask sev­eral about what sur­ro­gates are avail­able etc. La Jolla IVF is in­volved with help­ing the cou­ple to choose the sur­ro­gate. If sev­eral sur­ro­gates are po­ten­tials, we look over all the med­i­cal records of the po­ten­tial sur­ro­gates based on BMI of 30 or less, past preg­nan­cies all be­ing healthy, sur­ro­gate her­self sta­ble, how many C-sec­tions has the sur­ro­gate had etc. There are many other cri­te­ria we look at to help the pa­tients make an in­formed decision about which sur­ro­gate would best suit their needs and in­ter­ests.

La Jolla IVF is based in San Diego. Would in­tended par­ents need to travel to San Diego for an ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion?

No, it is not nec­es­sary for in­ter­na­tional in­tended par­ents to travel to San Diego for an ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion. Most of our pa­tients who are from out of town (both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional) have their ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion with Dr. Smotrich over the phone or via Skype. La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich have treated pa­tients from 86 coun­tries and the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion, in many in­stances is done re­motely.

How long would some­one have to stay in San Diego for treat­ment?

The amount of time nec­es­sary to stay in San Diego for the ac­tual treat­ment can vary ac­cord­ing to the cou­ple’s or pa­tient’s needs. Some cou­ples stay a few weeks; oth­ers can stay as short a pe­riod of time as sev­eral days to a week. This is also de­pen­dent on FDA in­fec­tious dis­ease test­ing, donat­ing sperm for the pro­ce­dure and whether or not the in­tended par­ents wanted to stay for the egg donor’s oocyte re­trieval and the ges­ta­tional sur­ro­gate’s em­bryo trans­fer.

Why not adop­tion?

Adop­tion is a won­der­ful al­ter­na­tive for cou­ples want­ing chil­dren. It would ap­pear, how­ever, that it is dif­fi­cult to ob­tain ba­bies for adop­tion in the USA for ex­am­ple if you are a gay cou­ple. It also now seems that it is quite un­usual for for­eign adop­tions to be achieved very eas­ily. In years past, we did have sin­gle-par­ent adop­tions, where the sin­gle gay fa­ther or les­bian mother, com­mis­sioned a pri­vate adop­tion with the help of a lawyer. How­ever, as the re­pro­duc­tive tech­nol­ogy of third-party parenting came of age, LGBT pa­tients de­cided that they would rather have chil­dren that they were bi­o­log­i­cally re­lated to and so the cre­ation of fam­i­lies through th­ese high-tech strate­gies and treat­ments has be­come much more popular and, at least amongst our pa­tients, it is their first choice.

What is the suc­cess rate of La Jolla IVF?

Over the past ten years La Jolla IVF and Dr. Smotrich have per­formed over 550 gay sur­ro­gate cy­cles with a suc­cess rate of over 80% on the first at­tempt.

For les­bians, this suc­cess rate may vary de­pend­ing on the age of the pa­tient giv­ing the eggs—the younger the bet­ter the suc­cess rate.

Why should an LGBT cou­ple or per­son want­ing to start a fam­ily choose La Jolla IVF?

La Jolla IVF wel­comes pa­tients re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or mar­i­tal sta­tus. Since 1997 Dr. Smotrich has openly and will­ingly treated all gay and les­bian cou­ples and La Jolla IVF is well known as be­ing gay-friendly and very wel­com­ing.

La Jolla IVF has a proven track record, longevity, ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence, a record of in­no­va­tion, and is very re­spon­sive to the needs of dif­fer­ent groups of pa­tients.

La Jolla IVF’s lab­o­ra­tory has over 100 years of col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence amongst our em­bry­ol­o­gists (in­deed one of the em­bry­ol­o­gists him­self be­longs to the gay com­mu­nity). The lab­o­ra­tory has a record of in­no­va­tion and depth of new treat­ments such as PGD and blas­to­cyst trans­fer.

Cal­i­for­nia is the most sur­ro­gate-friendly lo­ca­tion in the world and the law per­mits same-sex par­ents to both be recog­nised on their child’s birth cer­tifi­cate.

Over 80% suc­cess rate on the first at­tempt for gay surrogacy.

La Jolla IVF is truly an i nter­na­tional prac­tice with ba­bies liv­ing on ev­ery con­ti­nent in the world.





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