For Dr. Perry Phillips, there is no greater joy than handing over a newborn baby to its parents. That is, unless he is handing the baby to previously infertile parents.
“That’s even more special,” says the Toronto-based obstetrician/gynaecologist and co-director of IVF Canada, the country’s first fertility clinic.
It was nearly 30 years ago when Phillips and three of his OB/GYN colleagues at Toronto East General Hospital — Dr. Sam Batarseh, Dr. Murray N. Kroach and Dr. George Hon Woo — established the LIFE Program, Canada’s first treatment program for infertility via in vitro fertilization (the technique of fertilizing human eggs outside the body before implanting in the womb).
“IVF was being done in the States and elsewhere, but not here,” recalls Phillips. “We were sending all of our patients to the States.”
In 1983, the foursome made medical history by achieving Canada’s first IVF pregnancy. With this success came increasing demand from across the country and the world, and five years later, they founded IVF Canada — their private facility in Toronto housing state-of-the-art labs, clinics and surgical facilities — where they treat an average of 500 patients per year with various fertility treatments and assisted reproductive technologies.
In the decades since they began, the team has continually defied the odds of nature, giving thousands of people experiencing problems conceiving their dream of having a biological child. Among the milestones, not only did IVF Canada achieve the first IVF pregnancy in Canada, but also the first twins and other multiples born via IVF, the first baby born from a frozen embryo, the first baby born from a donor egg, the first gestational surrogacy pregnancy and birth, and the first pregnancy and birth for ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).