Marta Antich

Marta Antich

Founder & Scientific Director, Fertilab
L. Alfonso de la Fuente Hernández

L. Alfonso de la Fuente Hernández

Medical Doctor, Instituto Europeo de Fertilidad
Lenient legislation, foreign demand, and personalized care have made Spain the go-to place for fertility treatment.

Can you tell us about the company's history and milestones?
L. ALFONSO DE LA FUENTE HERNÁNDEZ 2018 was an extremely successful year for the Instituto Europeo de Fertilidad from a commercial standpoint due to the astonishing growth of the fertility sector in Spain. Today, we are one of the largest companies in the world working on reproductive technology. Before setting up the institute, I worked in three different hospitals in Spain, the first belonging to the publicly funded national healthcare system and the other two from a mixture of both the private and public sectors. As I could not improve everything I wanted to whilst in those roles, I decided to set up Instituto Europeo de Fertilidad in 2006. Currently we perform between 300 and 450 IVF procedures a year. We also do other treatments involving freezing embryos and artificial insemination.

MARTA ANTICH Fertilab was established 23 years ago as a laboratory that provides a service to all gynecologists that want to work in assisted reproduction. In 1996, I was associated with a gynecologist, whose consultations I frequently attended, and we had a small laboratory, though everything that involved an operating room was done externally. After four years, we decided to open a clinic with an operating room. In 2001, the place already had everything but the gynecologists kept coming from outside. Eventually, we began having our own doctors; once many gynecologists came, we decided to expand the space and hold the consultations somewhere else.

How does Instituto Europeo de Fertilidad stay up-to-date with the latest fertility technology?
LADLFH We have the latest technology because today it is significantly easier to learn about and purchase everything we need. We joined the American Fertility Society, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, and the Spanish Fertility Society. Through this worldwide network, we are in touch with the latest innovations and technologies.

How many patients do you receive a year?
MA Every year, we see less than 1,000 patients, as our work philosophy is to do things well and in a personalized way. Our philosophy has always been for every doctor to follow their patient throughout the entire process because fertility is a complicated issue for patients. We also try to provide the same nurse every time.

What sets the institute apart from its competitors?
LADLFH Instituto Europeo de Fertilidad focuses on the personal needs of its patient. Providing a personalized service to a patient is extremely important; in fact, it is more important than having the latest technology. That is precisely why we work as a small group, because we want to be able to form personal relationships with our patients. The second factor that differentiates us is that we have an EmbryoScope+, a new technology to control the development of embryos whilst they are in the laboratory. We also have IVF Witness, a new security measure and an important technology to avoid any problems with samples and embryos. Ours are controlled both by our manual security protocols and by an automatic security system.

What are the main developments in the fertility sector in Spain?
MA One of the biggest innovations is vitrification. Vitrifying has been much more important to us than ICSI (microinjection). Vitrification has been a great change, although it has not been given much attention. There is a great difference between freezing and vitrifying. The results of freezing are much worse. Vitrification is highly effective in almost 100% cases. We started with embryos and then ovules in 2014. A special permit is needed to vitrify ovules. What sets us apart is the personalized treatment and guidance we give to patients. We do not yet know what the repercussions will be in the following generations so our goal is to ensure that not only is the child born healthy, but also that they will be able to have children and grandchildren. The impact of assisted reproduction at the health level is still unknown.

What are the main developments in the fertility sector in Spain?
LADLFH The most important improvement has been the possibility of storing frozen eggs. Young women now have the opportunity to freeze their eggs so they do not have to worry about their fertility declining with age. Historically, in the field of reproduction there have been two important advancements: the invention of the pill, which allowed women to separate sexuality from reproduction, and the ability to freeze eggs for the future. We are extremely keen to spread the use of this technology. 6