ON FERTILE GROUNDS
Medical Director for Health & Fertility Centre for
Women, Dr Kelly Loi sheds light on the issue of fertility
very so often in the media you hear about actresses in their fourties getting pregnant – but in fact its not so easy,” shares obstetrician, gynaecologist and Ministry of Health-accredited fertility and IVF specialist Dr Kelly Loi. “Women are born with a fixed number of eggs – so my advise is always to start family as soon as possible. It’s a challenge to manage expectations, and not easy to tell anyone that they don’t have very good chances of getting pregnant.”
Yet despite the emotional and physical demands, Dr Loi remains passionate about her profession.
“I always enjoyed science and biology. You do a lot of detective work – you do a lot of investigations and thinking, trying to figure out the diagnosis. My interest in fertility was piqued while I was in a medical student in University of Oxford rotating through the obstetrics and gynecology department. There would be weekly fertility meetings where they discuss IVF cases and I was inspired by how, in this field of medicine, clinical research and basic science techniques can be translated into benefits for the patients.”
Accredited by the Ministry of Health to perform assisted reproductive care and in-vitro fertilisation for patients, she is also accredited to perform advanced gynae-laparoscopic and reproductive surgery. “Every new life I help to bring to the world feels like a great achievement – especially so when the patient had problems conceiving before. There have been a few cases where the patient was told that she hasn’t have much choice – but my view is that as long as you’re not past menopause, there is still a chance.”
A loving mother of three children herself, Dr Loi also makes it her mission to educate both public and faculty the importance of fertility preservation. This refers to the preservation of ovarian tissue and eggs before a person undergoes a procedure that can potentially affect the
chances of conceiving later on. For this, she underwent advanced training in Belgium in fertility preservation for cancer patients, under one of the foremost experts in this field, Professor Jacques Donnez. “The studies are very supportive of the success rates of preserving and restoring fertility after treatment – if a woman is married she can freeze her embryos; if she is single she may freeze her eggs or ovarian tissue. However, often when a patient is told that they have cancer they forget about what happens when they have recovered – and by then it’s often too late to help them. In some countries it is routine to talk to a patient about fertility preservation, but here, while there is a growing consciousness, the SOPs are still not in place,” Dr Loi shares.
As a consultant in the Department of Reproductive Medicine for KK Hospital, she conducted a study on patients’ interest in fertility preservations, if they had been informed about the option. “The findings indicated that how the patients manage the situation highly depends on the advise of the doctors.” So apart from giving talks to the public, she also makes it a point to share the information with fellow doctors and possible patients. “I have helped to save ovarian tissue or eggs of cancer patients as young as three years of age, and the embryos of older patients with breast cancer.”
“Seeing how difficult it is for some patients to get pregnant has made me appreciate my family more – and being able to have children.”
“My son would sometimes say to me: ‘It’s late, it’s time to sleep. You shouldn’t be going to the hospital’,” says the recipient of Excellent Service Awards as well as the Long Service Award from KK Hospital in 2008. “Indeed the sacrifice of time is the greatest sacrifice of all. But I do enjoy my work. The success stories more than compensate for all the sacrifices.”