Dr Shamsheer Vayali and Dr Marc Noppen, CEO, University Hospital, Brussels, after the signing ceremony yesterday. Zaid Daoud Al Siksek, CEO, Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, Anick Van Calster, Belgium’s ambassador to the UAE, and Dr Charles Stanford, CEO, Burjeel Hospital, were also present. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Married couples, who have been trying to conceive for a few years, now have the option of seeking the help they need through a new In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) centre which promises to offer new reproductive medicine solutions.

IVF is a laboratory procedure in which sperm is placed with an unfertilised egg in a Petri dish to achieve fertilisation. The embryo is then transferred into the uterus to begin a pregnancy or is frozen in a bank for future use.

University Hospital Brussels and its centre for reproductive medicine will be managing the upcoming project, which will be located at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, set to open January 2012.

Some common fertility issues among couples are found among those who engage in consanguinity (relationship by blood); women aged over 30 and obese and diabetic women, according to health professionals.

Dr Shamsheer Vayali, Burjeel Hospital managing director, added around 5,000 women from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi received IVF treatment in 2009.

While exact updated statistics regarding infertility across the UAE remain unknown, Dr Shamsheer added that: "We know that statistically five to ten per cent of couples have difficulty conceiving. This is the reason for having a full reproductive medicine centre and not just an IVF one. We also hope the centre will help married couples by avoiding the need to travel during this emotionally sensitive period."

When Gulf News asked whether the centre would be offering similar services to the University Hospital Brussels (some of which include: stem cell research, artificial insemination, treatment of male impotency, sperm extraction surgery, freezing of cells and tissue) Professor Dr Human Fatemi, Medical Director at Brussels University and Kuwaiti IVF Centre said: "Every country has its own regulations and laws. I am still studying whether egg and sperm freezing and banks are legal according to the Islamic laws of the UAE. I know for a fact however, that egg and sperm donation is not allowed in Kuwait as per Sharia."

"To maintain healthy fertility rates we always encourage women to keep a lookout for their body mass index, live a healthy lifestyle, and conceive at a young age if possible. I have yet to study what the common fertility problems are among couples in the UAE," added Dr Fatemi.

Location

The IVF centre will be located in Burjeel Hospital on Al Najda Street at the junction with Defence Road.