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Incubating a dream

May 23, 2014

Baby talk becomes reality thanks to Royal Alex Foundation

Story by Kerri Robins; photo by Elise Cerny

EDMONTON — When her diagnosis of endometriosis was first delivered a few years ago, Megan Isbister and her husband Marc feared they would never have the family of their dreams.

“The hardest thing is wanting a child so bad, and thinking it may never happen,” says Megan, 35. “It was so out of our control … we felt helpless.”

Darcy Bilodeau, left, a technologist in the embryology lab at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, shows off the G185 Tri-Gas Incubator, bought by the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation with the help of a donation from Angela Silvera, right.Yet today — with a little assist from the G185 Tri-Gas Incubator used in the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) program at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women — Megan and Marc are living the dream as the proud parents of two healthy daughters: Abbey, 3, and her little sister Sophie, six months.

Endometriosis, which can cause infertility, is a condition where the endometrial lining in the uterus grows beyond the uterus into the abdominal cavity.

In-vitro fertilization is a complex procedure in which technology plays a vital role in helping couples to conceive; the incubator improves the viability of embryos.

With that goal in mind, the hospital purchased a second G185 Tri-Gas Incubator in June 2013 with funding from the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation
“A big advantage to the incubator is that it helps protect embryos from adverse environmental conditions, exposure to toxins and air quality threats by simulating the fallopian tubes and uterus,” says Dr. Tarek Motan, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at the Lois Hole.

“It regulates oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide levels within a controlled environment to maintain the best conditions for developing embryos.

“Generally, depending on a woman’s age, we see about 11 to 16 per cent of couples struggling with infertility. Having a second Tri-Gas Incubator is a big bonus because we can now help more women by providing that optimal environment for embryonic development.”

Megan says she’s grateful for this technology.

“It’s hard to put into words the joy I felt when I saw the positive pregnancy test,” she says. “Abbey and Sophie are such blessings — and the doctors and nurses at the clinic were so kind. Their care with us was amazing.”

The specialized incubator plays a pivotal role at the Women’s Fertility and Endocrinology Clinic in the hospital. The new incubator cost $33,000, with $30,000 of that raised through a donation from local philanthropist Angela Silvera.

Sharlene Rutherford, Vice President of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, says she’s also grateful for Silvera’s generosity.

“Angela’s gift brings hope to families,” adds Rutherford. “We have the best women’s hospital in Canada, and it’s because of the vision of so many organizations and individuals in our community — Angela is part of that and we can’t thank her enough.”

For information, visit www.royalalex.org