When Nature Fails, Science Can Prevail

Mr & Mrs Duncan lost their first pregnancy at 6 months due to complications of alpha thalassemia. They attempted for a second child and conceived once  again. Sadly, the baby was detected to have alpha thalassemia and  they  lost  the  pregnancy  within  the  first trimester.

The couple were feeling lost and unsure of what to do when a friend recommended they explore genetic testing to  ensure  their  future  baby  will  not  be  a thalassemia carrier. They decided to visit Sunway Fertility Centre as genetic testing was offered there.

“This is merely a hurdle, not the finish line.” This was one of the first few things that Mr & Mrs Duncan’s fertility specialist told them when they explained their condition. The specialist spent time talking to them, explaining the treatment process and available services. Upon recommendation, they agreed to try IVF with genetic testing to screen out the embryos with thalassemia and to improve the pregnancy success rate while reducing the possibility of another miscarriage.

Throughout her treatment, Sunway Fertility Centre’s International Patient Services team was a phone call away via their 24 hour Careline. On the day of the egg pick-up procedure, a fertility nurse stayed with her throughout. The eggs were fertilised in the laboratory using a highly specialised procedure called Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI), which involves injecting sperm into each egg with the aid of high magnification. The high magnification used identifies tiny defects in the sperm head that would not be visible with the standard ICSI. With this technology, only normal looking sperm are injected into the eggs, increasing the fertilisation rate. IMSI also reduces the likelihood of miscarriages through better sperm selection. This method is highly recommended for couples who have experienced repeated failed cycles or with components of male infertility.

“She’s our world!” will be Mr & Mrs Duncan*’s reply if you ask them about their daughter, Amelia. Their precious miracle was conceived through IVF treatment, and their journey towards conception was one of hope, faith and belief. Although their journey was one that many may not typically associate with infertility, it distinctively highlighted how fertility treatment can extend beyond infertile couples. Their bouncing little baby girl is a constant reminder of how when nature fails, science can prevail.

Fertility treatments are not solely for couples who struggle with infertility.

Conceiving was never an issue for them, but every pregnancy ended in a miscarriage within the first few months. Mr & Mrs Duncan were both carriers of the alpha thalassemia gene. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to produce abnormal haemoglobin or an inadequate amount of functional haemoglobin. Approximately 5% of the worldwide population has thalassaemia, although not all of these are symptomatic and some are silent carriers.

Sunway Fertility Centre’s time-lapse technology enabled them to view their fertilised eggs growing from Day 1 to an embryo. Time-lapse imaging technology is a non-invasive embryo selection technique in which a camera continuously records the embryo development in the incubator. This gives the embryologists unlimited possibilities to evaluate and select the best embryo(s) for transfer without stressing any of the embryos. And the best part is that they received a video of the whole development as a keepsake!

Thalassemia is a common condition in Southeast Asia, however many are unaware of its prevalence and hereditary nature.

The embryos were biopsied for Pre-implantation Genetic Testing (PGT) and normal, thalassemia-free embryos were selected for transfer to the uterus. There are two methods of PGT which are available at Sunway Fertility Centre. PGT-M screens for monogenic/single hereditary genetic defects such as thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, etc, and is also performed for HLA matching. PGT-M is customised to the couple’s needs and can detect more than 99% of inherited single gene disorders. Meanwhile, PGT-A is a standard method that detects embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes, which can lead to syndromes such as Down’s, Patau’s, Edward’s, and Turner’s, among others.

One healthy, normal embryo was transferred to her womb, while the remaining embryos were frozen for future use if they wanted to have more children. Two weeks later, a pregnancy test confirmed that she was pregnant. After an uneventful 9-month pregnancy, the couple were blessed with a healthy baby girl. Their journey towards conception was stressful but the precious little bundle at the end of it made the struggle worthwhile. Through a comprehensive range of fertility treatment and the utilisation of differentiated technologies such as IMSI, time-lapse imaging and PGT, the centre was able to optimise and achieve a higher pregnancy success rate for Mr & Mrs Duncan.

Our Stories

We were recommended to Sunway Fertility Centre by a family friend. I was blessed to conceive on my first IVF attempt! We will always be grateful for our beautiful treasure. Thank you!


by Sylvia & Danny Tang, Singapore


To the team in Sunway Fertility Centre, keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing a great job creating families and making a difference in people’s lives.


by Azam Mansur & Liyana, Malaysia


We started looking into fertility services when my husband was about to undergo cancer treatment. His sperm was frozen and when we eventually decided to start our family, I started IVF treatment. Today, we’re proud parents of two boisterous boys and Henry is cancer free.


by Henry & Stephanie Aditya, Indonesia

Sunway Fertility Centre IVF