“Assisted fertility can be stressful and disarming. Since day one, we have strived to elevate the patient experience by creating a humanizing and caring environment”
Dr. Marjorie Dixon, CEO and Medical Director of Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health
It is easy and understandable to dwell on some of the tough realities of the moment, but we want to share some positivity during the UK’s annual Fertility Week, organised by Fertility Network UK. We did not need to look any further than the inspirational Dr. Marjorie Dixon, the founder of IFC’s Canadian partner Anova Fertility & Reproductive Health, to provide a breath of fresh air.
Q. Anova has grown into one of Canada’s leading next generation clinics in four short years; what motivated you to start it?
I returned to Canada after a certified fellowship in the U.S. and became disillusioned with what I saw to be the care options available to Canadians. When I asked why we were doing things a certain way, I was told that change was just about impossible. This is the worst kind of response I could have been given as it merely inspired me to go after change. There’s nothing worse for a Type A, analytically-driven, scientific person to be told “this is the way it is’. I built a team of inspirational achievers who shared my goal and we went for it.
On one side, from a more technical perspective, I knew that we could do better by building a centre that invested in the latest science and technology. I am so proud of our lab and people, we have a state of the art facility and it is the magic behind the success rates that we have at Anova.
From another perspective, I wanted to address that fertility clinics are often primarily geared towards heterosexual couples who are struggling with infertility. As an LGBTQ+ community member myself, and the mother of three IVF children, I recognized that there is a gap in access to care but also information since I experienced it personally. I made it part of Anova’s mission to make the path to parenthood as clear and supportive as possible for everyone, as love is love and everyone has the right to a family.
Q. So what is your goal?
Our goal is to improve the experience of reproduction — to improve the journey regardless of family status and sexual identity. To make family accessible to everyone, because we have the ability and training to do so. It’s in our mission statement: To provide individual care for patients of every age and situation.
I acknowledge that assisted fertility is stressful and disarming. I had IVF and I remember every single treatment. So we design the rooms differently. We host support groups because there is power in social interactions with others going through the same thing. I believe that the experience of fertility care is just as important as the science.
Q. It is personal then?
Of course, my experience as a patient shaped my thinking. As a black, female, LGBTQI+ I am familiar with what it means to be marginalized. I also know first-hand how stressful the fertility journey can be so wanted above all to offer patient-focused fertility care under one roof. The journey of fertility can be disarming on the best of days, and alienating, so we were determined to offer wrap around care in one physical location, undertaken by a compassionate and empathetic team.
The fertility journey is the ultimate equalizer. If you take a look around our clinic, we have every type of person coming through our doors, and they sit together with one goal in common: a legacy of their own, a family of their own.
This desire is wholeheartedly supported and shared by Anova’s entire team.
Q: What’s next for you, and for Anova Fertility?
We have had success, growth, and provided improved access to care. But there is still so much to do. I don’t think it ends. I believe we need to find champions to create a movement of improved access to every member of the community regardless of gender or sexual orientation. I envision a clinic that focuses on reproductive health, family planning and sexual wellbeing. This includes education and involving our patients in the decisions about their care in each stage of their journey. Every person is unique, and so should be their fertility plan.
Hopefully, the legacy we leave through Anova Fertility is one of sustainable change in medicine. I am so blessed to do what I do every single day. It is immensely rewarding to make babies, with lots of love and a some science.
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