Shahin Ghadir

You hit 40. Night sweats awaken you. You drag your feet to go to that family gathering and rehearse all the justifications you’ll say for not having tied the knot yet. A series of failed random dates are stuck on you like a shadow. Frantic, you start categorizing men according to the level of compromise you are willing to make to quiet your mum’s voice in the background, echoing the four letter word she always mentions, “baby”. That’s the only reason you want to get married, right?

Okay so, if you get lucky and do get hitched at that age, will you be able to have that baby or have you missed the “train of fertility” and are doomed for a childless life?  No you are not. With 13 years of experience in all sorts of baby making solutions, the world-renowned South California Reproductive Center has challenged that train of thought, providing hope and changing lives every day.

Shahin Ghadir is a founding partner of the Center and one of The Clinic’s most renowned fertility experts. He is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. With a Medical degree from the Central University of the Caribbean, Ghadir graduated summa cum laude, ranking first in his class.

Ghadir is of Persian origin, making him popular with clients from the Middle East. He understands their culture and makes clients feel at ease discussing controversial issues. Despite his very busy schedule, enigma’s

Jumana Shihata managed to pin Ghadir down for a phone interview to explore his views on infertility, InVitro Fertilization (IVF)/Embryo freezing, and Oocyte Cryopreservation (egg freezing).

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How successful is IVF?

If you have a man, this is your best option. It’s an insurance policy you can cash in on. With IVF we have managed to achieve the same outcome rates as those of couples conceiving a baby naturally. The clinic uses an Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI technique) that allows the IVF to occur

outside the body.  If the semen is of good quality, it is injected in half the eggs available. And the rest of the semen is left to swim. If the semen is of poor quality, all of it is injected into the egg, which is the same in the case of a previously frozen egg. In the previously frozen egg, the egg is thicker and harder for the semen to reach so the semen is injected.

But what about the “left over embryos”?

Embryo cryopreservation or “embryo freezing” allows for higher birth rates compared to “egg freezing”. The Southern California Reproductive Center was one of the first clinics to use the vitrification technique to produce an antifreeze-like liquid in cryopreservation. This is now a new standard in the way that embryos and eggs are frozen worldwide with thaw recovery rates reaching 100%. This, together with the fact that the outcome using cryopreserved embryos have uniformly been positive with no increase in abnormalities. There have been pregnancies reported out of embryos frozen for over 16 years. If a couple is not interested in coming back later for more babies, they can donate left over embryos. This is a dream come true for couples with no hope of ever conceiving using their own embryos.

How effective is egg-freezing?

It’s not an insurance policy you can cash in on. As the female egg is the largest cell in the human body, it contains a lot of liquid and is more prone to damage during the freezing process. I always recommend a woman to continue trying to conceive naturally and forget she froze her eggs. It is not guaranteed. Still, it’s the “in” thing now. Even Apple and Facebook have announced an egg-freezing policy for their female employees who want to delay having children. So yes, this is like the next best thing after the pill in the world of fertility. It simply cannot be dismissed.

Why do people from the Middle East go all the way to L.A for IVF and egg- freezing?

Most of the people who come to us have tried and failed many times before. In the whole fertility preservation process, the laboratory is the most important factor. The Roxbury Laboratory has a reputation that’s more important than myself or any doctor. There are 12 people on the team, meaning that more attention is given in the labs and on working on the semen. IVF lab technicians, materials used, and the quality of the embryologist all contribute to our success.

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Do you have a lot of Middle Eastern clients?

IVF is the most sought after service from people of the Middle East. Some others, mostly from the Gulf, prefer to come to L.A due to familial marriages that increase the risk of genetic disease. This is fixed through elective embryo transfer (moving only healthy embryos) and then a genetic screening is carried out to rid the embryo of disease.

Do Arabs go for surrogate births?

Surprisingly many Middle Easterners are using surrogate mothers to prevent the spread of disease. When a woman cannot carry her own baby, a family puts the wellbeing of the woman above religious concerns. Also, since bearing children is essential to family ties in the Middle East, people are willing to seek all measures to achieve it.

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