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The US clinic that helped make 40 000 babies

Birth

Washington - Consider the number 40 000. That's larger than the student body of the University of Maryland. It's just shy of the total population of Manassas, Virginia.

So it's astounding that it's also how many children have been born with the help of Shady Grove Fertility (SGF), a practice that was founded in 1991 and is now "the largest baby-making centre in the country," according to a profile in the May issue of Washingtonian magazine.

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File photo: Another factor: SGF is headquartered in Maryland, one of a few states that require insurers to cover IVF. Picture: AP

Associate editor Caroline Cunningham highlights a few reasons behind this success, including SGF's "shared risk programme," in which certain patients undergoing in vitro fertilization can pay extra and receive a guarantee: If they don't wind up with a baby, they get a refund.

Another factor: SGF is headquartered in Maryland, one of a few states that require insurers to cover IVF.

SGF has grown to 25 clinics in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia. According to one former patient, the office on K Street in downtown Washington is "Grand Central Station for infertile women in D.C." That's why, Cunningham notes, the clinic's on-staff interior designer has placed translucent walls in its large waiting rooms "so even when they're filling up, they don't feel overcrowded."

Cunningham reports that Shady Grove's size means it "can afford the bells and whistles: A custom alarm system on the egg and embryo storage tanks will call the lab director's cell phone at any hour if the tank temperature changes."

What's next? More babies in more places. SGF is building a center in Chile, which will be its first non-US location, and there are plans to go to China. As the clinic's website proclaims, "Believe it's possible."

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