Interview with Barcelona IVF Medical Director

Dr Raul Olivares - Barcelona IVF

We are really pleased to chat with the medical director of Barcelona IVF – Dr Raul Olivares Vela.

Please tell me a little more about Barcelona IVF. What is your philosophy, what makes your clinic different to others?

Our main strength is the way we take care of patients.  In Barcelona IVF, it’s not just about being successful, though the pregnancy rates are amongst the best in Europe, but about how we accompany patients through the process. It’s very important that they are followed by the same doctor and by the same patient assistant during the whole treatment, making things really easier to cope with.

As you know, many people from the UK, Ireland and USA travel to Spain for egg donation treatment. However, there are many other countries which now seem just as popular such as Greece and the Czech Republic. What can Spain offer over other countries?

The main advantage is that clinic are much more regulated here not to mention the vast expertise of the clinics and doctors. In the end, according the official data of the EHSRE and the Spanish Fertility Society one in three cycles of egg donation in Europe is done here in Barcelona.

How do you run your egg donation program? Where do you get your donors from and what contributes to your success?

We run a fresh egg donation program in which we guarantee a minimum of 6 good eggs. We systematically take embryos to blastocyst which maximizes the chances of success. In 2014 we had an overall 72% pregnancy rate transferring an average of 1,3 embryos, which means that in close to 70% of the our cycles we transferred only one blastocyst, thus dramatically reducing the risk of twins and related pregnancy risks.

As regards to our donors our main source is by word of mouth. Most of the time are the donor brings friends or relatives to donate. We’re lucky that Spain is a very supportive country where people are always willing to help.

Which treatments are on the horizon which may bring more success?

The horizon is marked by the progress in the diagnostic of the genetics (PGD) and the functionality of the embryos. Nowadays BarcelonaIVF is the leading clinic in Barcelona as regards to PGD on trophectoderm. Moreover new methods of screening like NGS will be fully operative in our lab offering much more information to handle about the quality of the embryos than the current CGH. We’ll also be able to study the mitochondrial DNA, something that may help to know which embryo has the highest chances to implant. Also the perfection of the time-lapse technology will be really useful since will allow to select the embryo would most likely lead to a pregnancy according to the best cell division pattern. The future will undoubtedly rely on the combination of the so-called BEST (Blastocyst Euploid Single Transfer) with the Embryoscope, when we’ll be transferring the embryo with the highest potential to become a live birth.

How do you and your colleagues keep up to date with recent developments in IVF treatment? 

Attending meetings and congresses across the world, carrying out studies in collaboration with other clinics, organizing our own events where we discuss about medical and paramedical issues…

Finally, what does Barcelona as a city offer patients travelling for treatment here?

Barcelona holds the title of European capital of the egg donation as stated above. But apart from all the medical advantages, Barcelona is a very well connected and easily accessible city, and the offer as regards to other activities (cultural, gastronomic, touristic…) is really impressive.

You can find out more about Barcelona IVF here including success rates and prices.

Dr Raul Olivares Vela has been working in reproduction since 1995, becoming director of the International Department of Instituto Marques. In 2010, along with his colleagues, they decided to embark on a new project called Barcelona IVF in which they wanted to offer a more personalised service.  He has attended many national and international congresses, including as a speaker, published many articles and collaborated in a great number of studies.