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Farewell to Judith

Judith Baron
Judith Baron

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of MFS, says au revoir to Judith Baron, on the eve of her retirement from MFS.

“Some of MFS’s staff weren’t even born when Judith Baron started working with our ‘founding father’ Peter Bromwich at Midland Fertility Services in 1987.

“Then, there were just five people in the team and the clinic was based in the BUPA hospital in Little Aston (now Spire). Judith had known Peter and Andy (MFS’s first embryologist) from the time in 1979 that these two hairy young men sat in the front row of one of her lectures on counselling (Peter alledgedly playing with a ‘goniometer’ – a string of large wooden beads that estimates testicular volumes and which must have been very disconcerting for the lecturer!). Judith was a natural choice as the clinic’s first counsellor for what was viewed by many as the scary ‘Brave New World’ of IVF. Louise Brown was only nine years old and public opinion was highly suspicious of what went on in IVF laboratories. This was in the days before the HFEA, when there were only a few thousand IVF babies in the world (rather than the millions there are today) and when IVF was viewed as a ‘last resort’ for childless couples.

“Judith came to the role with a wealth of academic and professional experience and has played a significant part in the development of Infertility Counselling at the national and international level. Her first degree was in Sociology at Leeds and she followed this with an MSc in Applied Social Studies and a Qualification in Social Work in Oxford.  She has never stopped studying and in 1999 gained the Diploma in Business Excellence and, in 2000, the Diploma in Performance Coaching.

“2000 was also an important year for Judith and MFS was she became a non-executive Director and Chair of the newly constituted Board of the Company.  During this last decade she has overseen MFS as it has grown to become one of the largest, most respected and most influential IVF clinics in the country.

“Judith has combined this vital work with supporting her daughters through their careers and frequent forays into motherhood and helping to care for her grandchildren is one of her greatest pleasures.

“Judith will be sadly missed by the staff of MFS, counselling colleagues (where she has been a mainstay of BAC and BICA) and patients.  In a few weeks time we will be booking patient number 20,000. It is thanks to Judith that all 20,000 patients have enjoyed such effective and compassionate care.”

A Medley of Christmas Carols at MFS

Midland Fertility Services (MFS) will celebrate another year of helping people to have babies, with a medley of ‘Christmas Carols’ . . . and Caroline and Carolyn and Karolina and Charlotte and Carl and Carol-Ann!

Seven of the 49 staff have the festive-linked name and they will be leading the Aldridge-based clinic’s staff celebrations of 249 babies who have been born since last December, with another 232 babies expected from on-going pregnancies.

A medley of ‘Christmas Carols’ at MFS: (clockwise from front) Caroline Price, receptionist; Carol-Ann Smith, office manager; Charlotte Rea-Gardner, filing clerk; Dr Karolina Palinska-Rudzka, clinical research fellow; Carl Birch, facilities manager and Carole Heap, housekeeper
The MFS medley of ‘Christmas Carols’: (clockwise from front) Caroline Price, receptionist; Carol-Ann Smith, office manager; Charlotte Rea-Gardner, filing clerk; Dr Karolina Palinska-Rudzka, clinical research fellow; Carl Birch, facilities manager and Carole Heap, housekeeper. (Carolyn Sage, secretary was also there in spirit!)

Receptionist Caroline Price joined MFS in 1993 at a time when fewer than 100 MFS babies had been born.  Since then she has been joined by similar namesakes Carl Birch, facilities  manager  and Dr Karolina Palinska-Rudzka, clinical research fellow and more recently by Charlotte Rea-Gardner, filing clerk; Carolyn Sage, secretary; Carol-Ann Smith, office manager and most recently Carole Heap, housekeeper. Their names all derive from Charles, originally a German name, meaning ‘free man’, but all now have the Christmas connection.

In the last year they have been part of the team of clinical and laboratory experts, administration staff and the business support team who have treated more than 735 couples who want to have a baby, with a range of infertility investigations, treatments and preservation services – including 640 IVF cycles.

During 2010, the unit’s 23rd year, MFS marked the birth in June of MFS’s first twins born from ‘flash frozen’ blastocyst embryos and, before the end of the year, the team is looking forward to the birth of the UK’s first baby born from IVF treatment using a ‘flash-frozen’ egg.  In early 2011, MFS will register the 20,000 patient enquiry and later in the year, will celebrate the birth of the 5,000th baby born after treatment at the clinic.

Caroline Price said: “Christmas is an extra-special time of the year, especially when there’s a new baby in a family.  So many of our patients have waited a long time to celebrate with their own baby and so the staff at MFS – and all its ‘Christmas Carols’ – wish them all a very Happy Christmas.”

One in 20 Pregnant Women is Dangerously Obese

babybump

Around 5% of all pregnant women in the UK – more than 38,000 – are severely obese, putting them and their babies at risk, according to a new study.  Read more . . .

Health Secretary Concerned About IVF Suspension

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has expressed concern over the temporary suspension of fertility treatment by some NHS trusts due to ‘funding problems’.

Mr Lansley urged primary care trusts (PCTs) to take note of guidelines recommending that infertile women are entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS, reports the Press Association..  Read more . . .

Professor Robert Edwards Receives Nobel Prize for Medicine

Professor Robert Edwards and Louise Brown
Professor Robert Edwards and the world's first 'test-tube baby', Louise Brown

Dr Robert Edwards received the Nobel Prize for Medicine on 10 December 2010 and Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director at MFS, made the following comment:

“I was delighted that finally Professor Edwards has had the recognition he deserves; it is long overdue.

“Edwards and his friend and collaborator Patrick Steptoe had to overcome resistance from the medical and scientific establishment and religious authorities, but today, their pioneering work with IVF has transformed the lives of the one in eight couples with significant fertility problems.

“Nearly 4 million people in the world owe their existence to Edwards and Steptoe and more than 1% of all babies born in the UK today are ‘test-tube’ babies.

“Edwards and Steptoe’s original IVF technique was designed to overcome female fertility problems such as blocked Fallopian tubes but the procedure is constantly being advanced.  The introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has allowed problems of severe male factor infertility to be treated and the big challenge for fertility treatment now, is to maintain good pregnancy rates whilst avoiding multiple pregnancies.  Cryopreservation techniques such as vitrification and better embryo selection using genetic analysis are the way forward.

“And whatever developments the future brings, the work of Edwards and Steptoe will forever have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people throughout the world.”