Thanks to the staff from Newlife IVF clinic in Greece for agreeing to our interview.
IVF in Greece is very popular with people from overseas, why do you think that is?
When choosing to have IVF treatment (own or donor eggs) there are certain issues to consider: location, cost, experience, success rate, safety, and of course legal issues. Greece offers a great deal in all of these aspects. To begin with, Greece is an excellent holiday destination, well known for its hospitality, beautiful beaches and relaxed lifestyle. Cost-wise Greece works out to be much cheaper in comparison to other countries, not only as regards to treatment but also as regards to accommodation and travel expenses. As IVF Units in Greece are private they strive to have the best success rates and to ensure maximum safety. This is achieved by having cutting edge equipment, highly qualified and experienced personnel, in most cases having trained and worked in western European countries. Finally, the legal framework is not as strict as in many other countries, enabling us to focus on patient care and not cost-effectiveness of a national health service without long waiting lists. Can you tell us a bit about Newlife IVF clinic. What makes it different from other IVF clinics? We have been characterized by our clients as a ‘Boutique clinic’. We aim to know each and every client well, we limit the number of patients that we see and offer extra services such as longer office visits and e-mail, skype and mobile phone availability. The treatments are all selected on an individualized basis that in combination with the latest technological equipment and the knowledge and experience of the staff lead to high success rates. What we aim for is that each and every person receives the necessary attention to have the best treatment possible and to also to feel that Newlife is a home away from home.
Newlife IVF clinic undertakes a lot of IVF cycles compared to egg donation. Is there a reason for this?
Egg donation is only part of what our unit offers. A large number of our patients can achieve a pregnancy with their own eggs/gametes. As each case receives individualized therapy we will always consult with a couple first to see if they wish to pursue treatment with their own gametes or if they wish to undertake treatment with donor eggs. During our consultation we always make it clear to each couple what they should expect from each type of treatment but also we point out what are the realistic options for them.
Will you always agree to IVF using own eggs if a woman desires this regardless of age or how do you manage expectations?
Legally in Greece, all types of infertility treatments are allowed up to the age of 50. We do strongly believe that each case should be looked upon on an individual basis and all medical decisions should be tailored according to the needs but also the wants of each individual. Some women want to pursue the chance of their own egg baby even when the success rates are very low. As long as someone is fully informed of all options available to them, along with the expected results of these options we are happy to pursue everyone’s dream.
People travelling from abroad often worry about standards and care in clinics they travel to. How can you reassure them at Newlife?
The medical and laboratory facilities have been designed according to the strictest guidelines of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Our surgical theatres have been specially designed and equipped to ensure patient safety.
All medical procedures are conducted by highly qualified and experienced doctors. Both our embryologists are ESHRE Senior Clinical Embryologist accredited.
We are also proud to say that for the past 3 years we have been an Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) free clinic, ensuring the safety of our stimulated cycle patients.
Our goal is to be in the frontline of scientific developments in the field of fertility treatments and operate for our patient’s safety according to the European guidelines of Bioethics. In order to ensure that the quality of our services is kept at the utmost level we have also been ISO certified (ISO 9001:2008) by TUV.
All staff that deal with our international patients are if not native speakers, fluent in English. As we do deal with couples of various nationalities we will take every effort to have an interpreter on-site if needed, as we believe that part of feeling safe means that you are in a position to understand every step clearly.
What do you think has been the biggest breakthrough in IVF treatment in recent years?
The biggest breakthroughs in IVF treatment can be separated into two categories those that have to do with the medical treatment and those that have to do with the laboratory. Medically ‘patient care individualization’ is probably the most important step that infertility doctors have made as this optimizes the patients’ results. More patient-friendly drug regimes have been developed allowing for less drugs or fewer days of treatment without any drop in success rates. However, all of this would not be possible if there had not been significant improvements in embryo culture media. The modern IVF lab nowadays needs a smaller number of embryos to achieve very good results. Furthermore, many new techniques (embryoscope, timelapse, PGD/PGS) are being implemented as we speak regarding embryo selection. We truly believe that if one of these techniques proves to be as good as initial studies have shown, we might be in a position to say that this would be the most important breakthrough in IVF treatment, giving new hope to many couples.
Is your clinic involved in research? How do you keep up to date with what’s happening in the field of IVF?
As Newlife is a private IVF unit we only offer treatments that have been medically proven and are evidence-based. We do not practice research techniques that may offer higher success rates but may also prove to be unsafe for a couple or the potential offspring. However, all staff is kept up to date by participating in international medical conferences and is trained in any new techniques as soon as they are made available.
Finally, what does Thessaloniki offer to patients coming for IVF treatment? Are there many tourist attractions to visit?
Thessaloniki is an ideal tourist destination, enchanting visitors with its beauty and rich cultural heritage. It has the best nightlife, shopping, fine dining and cultural events outside of Athens, but with a friendlier, less hectic vibe (lonely planet). There is a variety of accommodation, from five-star resorts to low-cost budget accommodation to suit everyone’s needs. Halkidiki with its 550 kilometers of coastline, golden beaches and blue sea is only a 40-minute drive away. Many of our clients choose to stay there during the summer period, as the time needed to be at the IVF unit is not very demanding and therefore they can rest and enjoy their holiday. Although the flights to Thessaloniki may be less frequent than to the capital Athens, the total cost of treatment, including travel, cost of living and accommodation may well work out to be much less if looked upon in detail. Furthermore, Thessaloniki is not affected by riots and demonstrations like the capital Athens and therefore is a more quiet and safe place to travel to.