Fertility meets faith - Technology and tradition team up to allow more couples access to fertility treatment at the MUHC

    MONTREAL, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Having children is a joy that most
couples hope to experience. For some, however, that joy remains elusive
because of fertility problems. "We have the technology to help most couples
conceive, but to make this technology accessible to all cultures, we must
deliver it within the context of their traditions and values," says Dr.
Hananel Holzer, a fertility expert at the McGill University Health Centre
(MUHC). "Many cultural or religious groups allow couples to use In Vitro
Fertilization (IVF) if certain conditions are respected and followed. It is
our job to make that happen."
    For example, some Muslim patients require that only female doctors are
involved in the IVF procedure. "We have also been asked to say prayers at the
moment of fertilization, which we are happy to do," says Dr. Holzer, who is a
professor of medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill
    The Orthodox Jewish community also has unique needs. The McGill
Reproductive Centre has worked closely with Rabi Weiss, head of the Jewish
Community Council of Montreal, to develop the Observation Program. This
program, the first of its kind in Canada, was created specifically to allow
members of the Jewish community access to state-of-the-art fertility
treatments without compromising their religious and cultural standards.
    "In Judaism, the Halacha requires that certain conditions are met with
respect to many aspects of life," says Dr. Holzer. "While the concept of
kosher food may be familiar to many, not everyone realizes that Jewish laws
also set out clear guidelines which cover reproduction." Many steps were taken
to meet the needs of this particular community. "Special observers were
trained to understand religious laws as they relate to assisted reproduction,"
says Dr. Holzer. "Special freezing tanks for the eggs and incubators to house
the embryos were also purchased by the Jewish community."
    Dr Holzer has vast experience working closely with the orthodox and ultra
orthodox community in Israel, were he was deputy director of the IVF
department at Hadassah Hospital. "When I arrived in Montreal it was only
natural to establish the same service here with Rabbi Weiss who is an
astonishing scholar," he said.
    Dr Seang Lin Tan, Director of the McGill Reproductive Centre and
Obstetrician and Gynecologist-in-Chief of the MUHC, praised Dr. Holzer's
initiative. "This program is a wonderful example of collaboration between the
MUHC and our community for the benefit of patients," he said. "By respecting
religious laws and adapting to cultural sensitivities we have allowed more
people to experience the joys of parenthood."
    This news follows a recent provincial government decision by the Quebec
government to fund fertility treatment. This decision makes the option of
using reproductive technology to start a family more widely available. To find
out more about the McGill Reproductive Centre, the Observation Program, and
the government's plan to fund fertility treatment visit: www.mcgillivf.com

    The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic
health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical
programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal
Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria
Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and
the Lachine Hospital. The goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on
the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the
development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Ian Popple, Communications Coordinator, MUHC
Public Relations and Communications, (514) 843-1560,

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