For many couples, their most fervent wish is to become parents. But, for many women, the path to pregnancy isn’t always easy. One of those women was Mia Mance. She and her husband Chad struggled to conceive for nearly two years. The couple, who live in Savannah, had already completed an unsuccessful cycle of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) when they found Jennifer Kawwass, MD, medical director of the Emory Reproductive Center (ERC).
“My husband was really interested in exploring all our options when it came to IVF,” explains Mia. “I was hesitant and ready to try a second round of IVF with our current doctor. But, we decided to meet with Dr. Kawwass for a second opinion.”
After that initial consultation, Mia and Chad were ready and eager to start an IVF cycle with Dr. Kawwass.
“I had a lot of unique factors I was bringing to the table,” Mia shares. “I’m a multicultural woman in her 40s. We had a binder full of questions and concerns. Dr. Kawwass addressed every single one of them. I really felt that, in just our first meeting, she really understood our goals and knew exactly what she was talking about.”
“We left that appointment feeling like we were all in this together and that Dr. Kawwass would have our back at every stage,” she finishes.
Most of Mia’s treatment was similar to any IVF patient: Close communication with her care team, daily injectable medication, and regular ultrasounds and bloodwork to monitor the development of ovarian follicles which would eventually produce mature eggs for retrieval and subsequent fertilization and embryo transfer.
There was one key difference in Mia’s care: She was doing this all based nearly 250 miles away in Savannah. Much of her interaction with her team at Emory would be via telehealth and through online communication.
“Fertility consultations are particularly well-suited to the incorporation of telehealth and video conferencing as there are many situations in which the bulk of the appointment is focused on discussing prior results and developing a treatment plan,” explains Dr. Kawwass. “The incorporation of telemedicine has helped us expand access to fertility services at Emory and will hopefully remain part of our care even after the pandemic is over.”
Coordinating Care, Virtually
Mia admits that the process seemed daunting at first. She had to adjust to communicating with her care team through the online patient portal (the primary channel of communication between patients, nurses and providers). That included uploading imaging and lab results she had at clinics in her hometown and any questions or concerns she had. However, it was a quick learning curve.
“It really was a seamless process,” she says. “My team was always available to help however I needed them and made sure my questions were answered.”
“IVF often has such a short window of time. You need lab results or ultrasound imaging to know how much medicine you need to take and when. The team in Atlanta made sure that they always got that to me exactly when I needed it,” she adds.
That responsiveness and support was felt even through virtual channels, and it reaffirmed to Mia and Chad they made the best decision to move forward with Emory Reproductive Center.
“The team was excellent throughout this entire experience — from the lab techs to nurses, front desk staff and everyone else,” Mia says. “IVF really is a strenuous journey, and to have all these bright, smiling, thoughtful and brilliant people to help you really makes a difference.”
Heading Back to Atlanta for Retrieval
There are many stages of the IVF process, including retrieval and embryo transfer. Retrieval occurs when eggs are surgically removed from the ovaries. Then, the mature eggs are fertilized with sperm. The fertilized egg (embryo) is then transferred back into the uterus.
The final portion of this carefully coordinated process called for Mia and Chad to be in person at the Emory Reproductive Center. The relationships made with Mia’s care team when she was still at home in Savannah helped make the transition back to in-person care as stress-free as possible. Both she and Chad were confident they were in good hands.
“It all ran so smoothly,” shares Mia. “Everyone was one-thousand percent committed to not just getting me pregnant but to my overall health. I felt that at every step — from communication online to when it was time for in-person appointments. It really was such a blessing.”
A Happy Ending
For Mia and Chad, their story has a happy ending: In January, they graduated from care at Emory Reproductive Center with an ongoing pregnancy.
“IVF is a journey for the entire family,” states Mia. “It’s a financial journey. It’s an emotional journey. It’s your dream that you are entrusting with your medical team. Everyone deserves the best possible care when it comes to your goals for your family.”
“At Emory, I felt like they truly cared about me, my health, and that we were all working for the same goal. I really believe that’s true for all patients — no matter their outcome. You can be confident the team at ERC is always in your corner.”
As for Mia’s outcome, she describes it simply. “It’s a lifetime dream come true,” she says with a smile.
“It was a genuine pleasure to help the Mances on their fertility journey. I could not be happier for them and their growing family,” adds Dr. Kawwass.
About Emory Reproductive Center
The Emory Reproductive Center offers comprehensive fertility services to hundreds of couples each year. Our full range of services includes diagnostics and testing, infertility treatment and experienced care for issues that affect reproductive health. We have been a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology since 2018. Our IVF success rates are consistently and significantly higher than the national average. For 10 years in a row, we have exceeded the national average for women under 35 to achieve a successful pregnancy.
Learn more about the services available at the Emory Reproductive Center.