We are proud to announce that we have successfully installed the first MIRI® Time-Lapse (TL) 6-chamber incubator at the Natal Fertility Clinic in Southern Africa last March 30, 2022.

Natal Fertility Clinic is based in Umhlanga, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory and its ward are ergonomically and aesthetically well designed to ensure the comfort and privacy of their patients. Their team of dedicated personnel has always been focused on innovation and excellence and through their caring nature; they have helped hundreds of couples have babies through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Esco Spotted: MIRI® TL in Southern Africa

Dr. Jonathan Nathan Hansen is the director at Natal Fertility Clinic Inc. and serves as Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist in Dr. Hansen Incorporated. Dr. Hansen graduated from the University of Natal, Medical School in 1977. He completed his specialist training at King Edward 8th Hospital in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, and qualified in 1983 with a fellowship in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the College of Medicine of South Africa. He moved to the UK in 1986 and trained as a specialist in Reproductive Medicine under the supervision of Professor Ian Craft at the Humana Hospital and London Fertility Clinic (Harley Street) 1986. Thereafter, Dr. Hansen returned to South Africa and started a very successful private Fertility Practice in 1988 at St Augustine’s Hospital. With a keen interest in clinical IVF, its accompanying ethics, and a profound passion to assist his patients, Dr. Hansen soon became internationally and nationally known for his expertise in obstetric ultrasound, GIFT procedures, IVF, ICSI and PICSI procedures, and laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis, fibroids, tubal pathology and correcting uterine malformations.

Dr. Christiaan Frederik Hoogendijk is the managing director of Natal Fertility Clinic Inc. and works as the laboratory director at the Natal Fertility Laboratory. Dr. CF Hoogendijk is a medical scientist in human fertility since 1999 and is registered with the HPCSA as a Medical Biological Scientist. He completed his Doctorate in reproductive physiology and embryo biotechnology at Stellenbosch University (SU) under the tutelage of the renowned Professor Thinus F Kruger. For his Ph.D. dissertation, he focused specifically on male sperm DNA fragmentation, novel methods for normal sperm selection, and the impact of sperm DNA on the development of the human embryo in vitro. He was awarded his Ph.D. (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) degree in December 2007.

Esco Spotted: MIRI® TL in Southern Africa 2
Mrs. Lydia Els-Smit is a Registered Medical Biological Scientist in Reproductive Biology who joined Natal Fertility Clinic in November 2019 as a Senior Embryologist with 12 years of clinical experience in human embryology. She completed her training and internship in 2006 at Tygerberg Hospital Reproductive Medicine Unit under the high-impact scientific leadership of Prof. Thinus Kruger, Prof. Roelof Menkveld and Dr. Marie-Lena (Windt) De Beer. She attained her Masters in Health Sciences in Reproductive Biology cum laude (SU) in 2008, studying slow cryopreservation of ovarian tissue for cervical cancer patients with Dr Hennie Botha (Gynaecological Oncology, SU & Tygerberg Hospital). A modified technique was developed, and successful hormonal regain shown after hetero transplantation of the cryopreserved cortical ovarian tissue. Since then, more than 30 cancer patients have stored their ovarian tissue according to this protocol. In addition, Lydia is an active role player in the interest of advancing the profession of embryologists in South Africa. She has served on the SASREG Board for 2 consecutive terms from 2014 till 2019  as SIG Embryology Representative Board member and Executive Board member as Honorary Secretary. She was also part of the SIG Embryology Committee and Chairperson for the term 2016-2019. Currently she serves as an Advisory member of the SIG Embryology Committee and Chair of the SASREG Accreditation Sub-Committee (2020-2023). During her terms, she also worked on workshops at national congresses and promoted the growth of the quarterly SIG CPD events in KZN and Cape Town for continued educational support for embryologists, IVF nurses, and psychologists in the field.

Lydia will be starting her Ph.D. study using the Esco MIRI® Time-Lapse Incubator in 2022. The study will be focused on the investigation of oxidative stress in the infertile couple and exploring antioxidants and microfluidic sperm separation during assisted reproduction as possible interventions to improve embryo morphokinetic development and implantation outcomes.

Oxidative stress (OS), has been proposed as a major contributor to male infertility (Male oxidative stress infertility (Agarwal ET AL., 2019)) as well as in female pathologies i.e. endometriosis (Ferreira ET AL., 2019), but is not part of regular diagnostics. Several lifestyle factors can contribute to OS. Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during standard sperm processing can increase sperm DNA damage in predisposed patient samples. Sperm microfluidics has been shown to improve the yield of sperm with high DNA integrity, reducing the risk of recurrent implantation failure or miscarriage (Quinn ET AL., 2017). The study aims to investigate the possible origins and options as reducing strategies to improve embryo development and implantation outcomes for patients with OS, with a focus on the male.