A University of Minnesota infertility clinic — the first in the state to perform in vitro fertilization — is closing amid competition from a new Twin Cities provider and the departure of all three of its doctors.
With its last day June 30, the Reproductive Medicine Center in Minneapolis will complete ongoing IVF cycles by May 8 so patients can receive the necessary follow-up care and pregnancy tests in the following weeks.
“Up until the very end, we’ll hopefully be having some very successful outcomes,” said Gail Kelly, clinic site director.
Patients with upcoming IVF procedures will be transferred, and hundreds of frozen embryos, eggs and sperm samples will be shipped to off-site storage or other clinics.
The closure comes despite steady demand for infertility services, partly due to “millennial” couples deferring childbirth until later ages when natural pregnancies can be harder to achieve.
In 2013, five Minnesota clinics performed 1,637 IVF cycles in which infertile women sought pregnancies by having their own eggs fertilized externally and implanted. That compared with 1,568 such cycles in 2009, according to data from the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology.
But the university’s piece of that pie has shrunk — from 22 percent of the IVF cycles in 2009 to 18 percent in 2013.
With all of its doctors leaving for private practice, and the opening of a new clinic aligned with the renowned Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, the center was in a poor position to attract top specialists and compete, Kelly said.
The university center trains medical students who are specializing in reproductive medicine, but the incoming Colorado center is expected to take on that role, according to an announcement on the University of Minnesota Physicians website.
The university clinic hasn’t posted the flashiest statistics. Among 134 cases in 2013 in which the clinic transferred embryos into women younger than 35, 48 percent produced births and 34 percent resulted in singleton births.
The latter is a key measure as clinics try to reduce high-risk multiple births. The clinic also avoided pregnancies of triplets in 2012 and 2013 while maintaining its overall pregnancy rate.
But the private Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis boasted 331 transfers, with 60 percent yielding births and 40 percent resulting in singleton births, in 2013.
Clinic outcomes can’t be reliably compared, because some take tougher cases than others.
Couples nonetheless compare outcomes as they evaluate where to spend thousands of dollars on a chance at pregnancy. So the university’s figures probably haven’t helped.
“It’s a gamble anyway, right?” Kelly said of IVF. “Regardless, you want to have the best odds, whether those odds are really accurate.”
The closing drew emotional reactions. Two dozen clients posted their reactions on the center’s Facebook page along with pictures of their toddlers and school-aged children produced through IVF.