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Ticking Clock IVF doctor explains why job is special and how success rates have soared over past 20 years

'If a patient does get pregnant it's a feeling like no other'

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They are the babymakers that writers imagined in the past and science made a reality. The doctors that work in Ireland's busy IVF clinics have every reason to love their job because every day they make the impossible possible.

It is a fascinating and wonderful world. Croatia-born Dr Renato Bauman, who joined Rotunda IVF in 1995 and is now clinical director at Sims IVF Swords, explains the moment you transfer an embryo to the uterus can be a special one.

Sometimes he listens to classical music to relax both him and the patient, who endures no pain during the procedure, which marks the end of an IVF cycle for the woman hoping to become a mum.

"I am more comfortable with some classical music - it relaxes me. But look, I am 50-something, so some light and easy music; the patient might not agree."

Dr Renato explains: "We do all the usual checks with the patient first, and we have to get all the ladies in the proper position, and we use the small catheter to insert. We see how it goes inside the uterus, and then click, we see like a flash.

"I often think how I would feel if I were the patient; I wonder how they feel. If it was a good transfer, it is really an amazing moment. What we see is not the embryo that makes a flash - it is the media around the embryo, but it is a touching moment."

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Dr Renato Bauman is clinical director at SIMS IVF in Swords.

Dr Renato Bauman is clinical director at SIMS IVF in Swords.

Dr Renato Bauman is clinical director at SIMS IVF in Swords.

Louise Brown was born thanks to IVF back in July 1978 in Oldham in England.

Her birth, following the procedure pioneered in Britain, has been lauded among the most remarkable medical breakthroughs of the 20th century.

Fertility medicine has made great strides since then, with success rates increasing and price decreasing, and Dr Renato clearly loves being a part of it.

His primary areas of interest within assisted reproduction are minimally invasive (endoscopic) surgery, colour Doppler and three-dimensional ultrasound.

He says: "I am working more than 20 years in this field and, back then, success was a surprise for us because pregnancy rates were dramatically lower, so the whole team was celebrating every pregnancy.

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"Today, and luckily for our patients, it is not the case, because the pregnancy cases are a lot higher, but still, that feeling when you get a positive result, it is so special.

"You cannot compare it with any feeling. It is amazing, it is full of emotion - that terrific and joyful moment.

"It is the crown of our work and, of course, for the patient more because it is their life, it is their pregnancy. But there can be a little tear in the eye. It is a joyful moment."

Dr Renato points to a new method of freezing the embryo as a game-changer in success rates.

As well as that, the embryo can now be grown in a laboratory until day 5 (it used to be day 3), and this is called a blastocyst, before being transferred to the woman.

He explains: "Freezing embryos has allowed us the frozen cycle, which is getting together with the blastocyst, which together is strong and powerful.

"Before that, freezing was not the target. It was kind of the back-up thing. It was not the target; OK if it survives, but today it is the perfect thing to have a frozen embryo. The success is great, and the risks are minimal.

"I am proud to say the success rate - may sound not perfect - with the frozen embryo is up to 50pc within an age group. When I started, it was 10pc, and that, for me, is a huge difference

"The blastocyst is the development of the embryo. Up to 10 or 12 years ago, the embryo was transferred into the womb at the stage of eight cells, but now the embryologist is waiting until those cells merge, which works even better and improves the chances."

Dr Renato works together with the embryologists who evaluate embryos for transfer, grade them, perform embryo thawing, biopsy and constant checking and monitoring before transfer.

"Patients do not usually even see embryologists and that it is something I am not entirely comfortable with, because we share about 50pc of the success.

"Their role here is enormous; it really is extremely important."

  • Dr Renato Bauman is the author of many chapters in domestic and international books on gynaecology, as well as numerous scientific articles which are often cited in the international indexes

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