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Winnipeg fertility clinic opens new state-of-the-art facility

A Winnipeg fertility treatment clinic has expanded and opened a new facility to keep up with demand for services.

On Thursday, Heartland Fertility, which opened in 1997 and was previously located on Portage Avenue, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open its new state-of-the-art facility on Nature Park Way, just off Kenaston Boulevard.

The facility, which is the only one of its kind in Manitoba, offers a variety of fertility treatments to help same-sex couples and people experiencing infertility start a family and walk them through the emotional, and often stressful, journey to parenthood.

It’s a journey that Anna and Rezan Almojuela are familiar with, as their road to parenthood has been a long one. The Winnipeg couple started with fertility treatments at Heartland in 2019 and have struggled with ectopic pregnancies and surgeries, and have tried different kinds of fertility treatments, including intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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“It’s been a lot over a very short amount of time, but we got through it,” Anna told Global News, adding that she doesn’t know how they would have gotten through it without having a facility like Heartland within their reach.

“From the staff to the nurses to the doctors, we never felt a lack of empathy. And just the patience — because you go through frustration, you go through sadness, you go through losing hope, and it’s just like the (staff) are willing to be patient and just be there for you.”

Anna Almojuela and her nine-month-old daughter Elyanna. Marney Blunt / Global News
Elyanna was born in April 2023. Marney Blunt / Global News

In 2022, a second treatment cycle of IVF at Heartland worked, and in April 2023 the couple welcomed their daughter Elyanna into the world.

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“Every moment that we’re with her we’re just so fixated and it means so much more because we worked so hard for her,” Anna said, adding how stressful and heart-wrenching the experience can be.

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“You don’t know what the outcome is, but the journey teaches you a lot.

“At the beginning, it was the acceptance that we needed help that was the hardest part. And I think it’s the stigma that’s around infertility — that, ‘Oh, something is wrong with you,’ and we never want to think something is wrong with us. So it took time to accept that we need help, we need to get assistance, and this is normal.”

Dr. Gordon McTavish, the founder and medical director at Heartland Fertility, says infertility is more common than most people think. According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people experience infertility in their lifetime.

“Part of the time in can be a female factor, part of the time it can be a male factor causing the infertility, and about 20 per cent of the time it’s called unexplained infertility, which means both couples are healthy, all their investigations are fine, but they’re still not getting pregnant,” McTavish said.

Dr. Gordon McTavish says the expansion will help them keep up with demand for services. Marney Blunt / Global News

McTavish also says the expanded facility will help them meet demand.

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“We were getting a backlog and a wait-list happening, we’ve been able to make some new innovations to improve on the wait-list,” he said.

“So instead of waiting close to a year for a fertility treatment, we can be seeing people within weeks to investigate them, which is really kind of nice. And what that does is if you can get access to fertility treatments faster, that in itself reduces stress levels.”

That precious time is something Alana and Marla Warnick are also familiar with.

Alana and Marla Warnick says Heartland Fertility made their journey to parenthood a bit less stressful. Marney Blunt / Global News

“Statistically, I was told I wasn’t a very high eligibility to be pregnant. Because of my age I was considered a geriatric pregnancy,” Marla told Global News.

“But I said I wanted to go against the odds.”

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After a few tries, the couple welcomed their son Smith four years ago. They say without having Heartland Fertility, the stress and emotions would have likely been amplified.

“The best part is that we were able to have these things right here at home, because the time sensitivity is one of the things I think I was most stressed our about,” Marla said.

“And when you’re trying to have a child, that stress, every bit of that stress really does matter.”

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