University Hospitals announces area's first INVOCELL live birth

Monday, June 06, 2022

New, cost effective technology gives families hope.

CLEVELAND – University Hospitals (UH) Fertility Center announces the first INVOCELL® live birth in Northeast Ohio. After eight miscarriages and a premature delivery of a higher order multiple pregnancy, a local couple was recommended by their UH Fertility Center team to consider INVOCELL.

“My heart was completely shattered after our pregnancy loss,” Shanavia Odens recalls. “With the support of family, I ultimately decided I would not give up on my dream to become a mother.” Shanavia and her partner Parnell were evaluated by the team of specialists at the UH Fertility Center and determined to be good candidates for INVOCELL, the first FDA approved intravaginal culture (IVC) system.

The significant cost of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) remains the chief barrier to access for many families. In 2020, the UH Fertility Center began offering for the first time a technology that could dramatically reduce that cost. The effort was led by Sung Tae Kim, PhD, HCLD, IVF Lab Director, and Rebecca Flyckt, MD, Medical Director of the UH Fertility Center and Division Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

“Our mission at University Hospitals is to serve all of our local and regional communities, and so we are continuously seeking ways to expand options for individuals who cannot afford the full costs of in-vitro,” says Dr. Flyckt who is also the Lilian Hanna Baldwin Endowed Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “One of the ways we can extend our reach is with the INVOCELL® device.”

INVOCELL® is an IVC system for embryos. After stimulating the ovaries to grow multiple eggs, eggs are collected and placed along with sperm inside a small device and carried inside the vagina for five days. Afterward, physicians remove the INVOCELL® device along with the embryos that have formed within it and complete an embryo transfer.

“This process removes the cost, time, and staffing required for extended culture in the IVF lab, and it allows fertilization and early embryo development to happen naturally inside of the INVOCELL capsule, which is carried in the body until ready for transfer” says Dr. Flyckt. “It reduces the cost by about half, which brings many of the benefits of IVF to patients who would otherwise struggle to come up with the thousands of dollars required for traditional IVF.”

Shanavia and Parnell applied to the Zlotnik Family Fund, a philanthropic fund established at UH by Martha Zlotnik to provide support for UH Fertility Center patients, and received funding for INVOCELL. It was a success, and the family welcomed a healthy baby girl, Nova Jae, in November, 2021.

In addition to reducing the cost of IVF, INVOCELL® is uniquely suited to expedite pregnancy in a few other specific populations, including patients with a history of endometriosis and pelvic surgery, patients with tubal blockages, and patients in same sex relationships who are using donor sperm.

University Hospitals is pioneering advances in infertility care through the introduction of new technology, leading reproductive surgeons and cutting-edge research. To learn more click here.

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