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Former HFEA Chief Inspector Debra Bloor chose to work for the CARE Fertility group because she believes in its evidence-based model that doesn't come at the expense of a true commitment to patients. Why should you, too, consider CARE for your IVF?

When you need in vitro fertilisation to start or expand your family, numerous professionals will contribute their expertise as you hope to realise your dream of holding a baby. The single most important decision couples and individuals who are self-funding their IVF treatment make is choosing the right fertility clinic — after you’ve decided which clinic to go with, your future will largely rest in the hands of its staff. Manchester residents looking to fund their IVF treatment privately have quite a few clinics to pick from, but which is the best of the Manchester fertility clinics for private IVF? It's a hard decision to make, particularly when you're not quite sure what to look for. 

Doctors and nurses are the public face of your fertility treatment, the ones who will hold your hand and address your concerns, and patients who warmly recommended the fertility clinic they chose to others all had two observations in common: “The nurses were lovely and supportive”, and “the doctor took the time to answer all my questions”.

Scientists may work behind the scenes, but the more than a quarter million IVF babies born in the UK to date wouldn’t exist without them. Debra Bloor, now the clinic director of CARE Manchester, is one such scientist, and her story is inspiring to everyone who is considering whether the CARE fertility group — a “fertility giant” with over two decades’ of experience and 15 clinics across the United Kingdom and Ireland — is right for them.

“A scientist by training, I spent more than 10 years working at Manchester University researching embryo development,” Debra, who earned her PhD working on a team redesigning antibiotics in 1992, told us. “In 2002 I moved to work for the regulator of fertility treatment, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, as an inspector, and then as Chief Inspector.”

An impressive career by anyone’s standards, Debra’s role as Chief Inspector required her to become deeply familiar with the quality of care, scientific innovation, medical expertise, and patient satisfaction at fertility clinics throughout the UK. She believed in CARE’s approach so much that she decided to leave her job to join the CARE team in 2016. ”I made the move to CARE because I respect the evidence-based science behind CARE’s treatments and had faith in CARE’s commitment to providing excellent patient care and experience,” Debra said.

The fact that the HFEA’s former Chief Inspector — arguably in a better position to assess a clinic than just about anyone else — chose CARE tells us a lot. What makes CARE so special to Debra, and why should you, too, consider it? SteadyHealth spoke to her to find out.

CARE Fertility: Ongoing Research Allows For The Immediate, Evidence-Based Implementation Of Scientific Innovations

Debra’s passion for more innovative scientific procedures that lead to better success rates is so strong it’s contagious. Though I’m a writer who knows more about semi colons and Oxford commas than about embryos — blatantly obvious to Debra during our conversation, I’m sure — she nonetheless took the time to patiently explain some of the procedures that make CARE unique to me in great detail. It wasn’t a sales pitch. She’s just that passionate about her work.

The CARE group, uniquely, has common laboratory procedures and processes across all of our clinics,” Debra told me.

She continued:

“The development of our CAREmaps algorithms for embryo selection is a good example of why this is important. Time lapse imaging of embryo development provides a visual record of embryo development but we have taken time lapse a step further and looked at more than 200,000 embryos to date, recording, precisely, when they reached key developmental milestones. By identifying the differences between embryos that established a successful pregnancy and those that didn’t, we have been able to develop our CAREmaps algorithms to objectively distinguish those embryos with the very best chance of establishing a pregnancy.  This amazing achievement was possible because we have consistency across our laboratories. When we evaluate a new process or technology, we can compare the results from all the treatment cycles across all of CARE, which in turn means we are able to make evidence-based evaluations of treatments more quickly and effectively than other clinics.”

Once the scientific merit of a procedure becomes evident, the CARE Fertility group is able to immediately implement changes across the board, leading to a consistent and reputable quality of care no matter which CARE clinic you receive treatment at.

Though CARE is indeed at the cutting edge of scientific innovation, introducing the latest techniques well before some of their competitors, Debra also made it clear that CARE’s procedures are more than science for its own sake — “anything that we can do to help select the best embryo for transfer helps patients achieve their dream of having a family”.

Pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) is another example of this. “It allows us to distinguish between embryos with the right number of chromosomes and those with an abnormal number of chromosomes – again, something that isn’t possible to do by simply looking at an embryo through a microscope,” Debra explained.

"PGS is an advanced technique which involves taking a small number of cells from an embryo for testing. If the cells we test have the expected number of chromosomes, we know that the embryo they were taken from also has the normal number of chromosomes and we can then transfer that embryo. Sadly, we know that approximately half of the embryos created using the eggs of women aged 35 to 36 have chromosome abnormalities and this percentage increases as the age of the woman providing the eggs increases. While this treatment is becoming increasingly available, we have been performing egg and then embryo biopsy since 2011.”

Understanding how scary the procedure might be to some patients — “you wouldn’t let just anyone poke a hole in your embryo”, Debra empathised — she pointed out why the CARE team is extraordinarily qualified:

“CARE Fertility was responsible for the birth of the first baby after PGS in the UK in 2011. We have a very experienced embryology team and to date, the team at CARE Manchester have biopsied a staggering 3,409 embryos. Two of our current practitioners have been biopsying embryos since 2011 — when it all started — and they have passed their knowledge, expertise and experience on to other members of the team. We believe that this makes our team uniquely experienced in this cutting-edge technique. With our biopsy team, embryos are in very safe hands.”

Full-Time Fertility Experts Always In The Building

CARE scientists aren’t the only ones you can count on, however. Their medical staff, too, are quite unlike those at many other clinics. Debra reveals why: “CARE Manchester employs three full-time consultant fertility experts. Unlike other clinics who may rely on sessional doctors with responsibilities in other general obstetric and gynaecology fields, we always have a medical fertility expert available in the clinic to offer advice and guidance at every stage of treatment. Their focus also means they keep up to date with latest medical practice in fertility.”

“Like many clinics, CARE Manchester offers treatment with donated eggs and sperm and we are delighted that the HFEA analysis of our success rates shows that we have the highest clinical pregnancy rates in the region following egg donation. What also sets us apart in terms of patient experience though is our long established record in helping all couples achieve their dream of having a family using donor gametes and also through surrogacy. Accessing fertility treatment can sometimes raise very complex issues and we have a dedicated, expert  donation team that focus only on these treatments which means they are always available to help patients navigate their sometimes complex journey.”  

As you attempt to have a baby through IVF, you want to know that the clinic you choose offers the best possible odds of successful treatment. You want the staff to be cognisant of the significance of the treatment, and to be supportive. You want to be seen and treated as a person, rather than an item on a conveyor belt.

“Your need for family is always at the heart of our work,” CARE says — but then again, every single fertility clinic we’ve looked at says something similar, yet patients at some clinics make it clear that they did feel like a number, rather than a person. Though CARE is a large group, and you may see larger groups as being more impersonal than smaller, independent, fertility clinics, our conversation with Debra made it clear that CARE’s quest for the best success rates does not come at the expense of their approach to patients.

Talking to Debra, a picture of scientific passion, clinical excellence, and a deep respect for patients emerged. CARE, there is no doubt in our minds, lives up to its name.

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