The GYNCENTRUM Ostrava clinic was established in 1993, which makes it one of the centres with the longest professional history in the Czech Republic. In 2016, it became part of the PRONATAL Clinic Group. Thanks to this important step, it has also changed its identity and is going to welcome its clients under the new name PRONATAL Ostrava. It currently provides their clients with complex services in the field of assisted reproduction, prenatal diagnostics, prenatal care including prenatal courses, gynaecology, urology and mastology. MUDr. Petr Matlák, the head doctor of the clinic, told us more about their work.
To begin, could you briefly introduce yourself in terms of your professional focus?
My professional focus is the field of gynaecology and obstetrics, which I have been doing since 2004. This field includes a number of sub-specialisations, of which obstetrics and related prenatal care—the care of pregnant women, including ultrasound diagnosis of congenital developmental and genetic defects of the foetus—appealed to me the most. I have devoted a substantial part of my career so far to this area. Over the years, you meet patients with a different scope of problems and diagnoses, of course. For women of reproductive age, the question of fertility disorders, diagnosis and treatment of their causes is obvious. I became involved in reproductive medicine in 2010.
Why did you choose this specialisation?
The field of gynaecology and obstetrics appealed to me during my studies at university because of its diversity and the wide range of possibilities for self-fulfilment. In the course of practice, each gynaecologist profiles in a particular direction. Of course, it depends on their skill but also on the limits of the given clinic —what scope and quality of care it is able to provide. I have to say that I was really lucky in this respect and also had a lot of places to choose from. Caring for pregnant women has grown close to my heart. But I was becoming more and more aware of what women who can‘t get pregnant are missing out on. That‘s why I entered into the field of reproductive medicine. The PRONATAL clinic allowed me to combine these two medical directions together, solving fertility disorder and then guiding the woman safely through the entire pregnancy. Helping others have a complete and happy family is certainly worthwhile.
In what directions has the field moved during your time in medicine?
Reproductive medicine is a rapidly developing field, mainly in embryology and the technical equipment in laboratories. This is where I see the biggest shift, in the ways and possibilities of monitoring embryo development where we are able to record incredible things within five days. For example, the introduction of polarising microscopy, which enabled the diagnosis of the dividing spindle of the oocyte (female germ cell) and thus the correct timing of sperm injection into the cytoplasm of the oocyte, was a major advance. Significant progress has also been made in the field of genetics, in the preimplantation genetic testing of embryos, thanks to which we are able to select embryos without genetic defects and thus increase the success rate of treatment. Recently, there has also been a lot of talk about the use of artificial intelligence to, for example, design the most appropriate stimulation protocol for women before the first cycle of assisted reproduction, which seems to be the right way to optimise our work and increase the chances of conception.
Is it possible to undergo in-vitro fertilisation with insurance reimbursement at your clinic?
Yes, we have contracts with all the insurance companies. Infertility treatment is reimbursed by the insurance companies to patients up to forty years of age. The treatment cycle with embryo transfer must be completed before the fortieth birthday. The insurance companies reimburse the IVF cycle four times during a woman‘s lifetime, but only in the case that just one embryo is inserted in both the first and second IVF cycle. If in at least one of these cycles two embryos were inserted, the insurance company will reimburse the cycle only three times. The purpose of this measure is to reduce the number of multifetal pregnancies, which are burdened with significant risks and complications during pregnancy and birth for both the mother and the foetus/newborn. Examples include premature birth, the birth of an immature or low-birth-weight newborn, the development of pre-eclampsia, a higher incidence of congenital developmental defects and so on.
What makes PRONATAL unique in the Czech Republic and Europe?
The PRONATAL clinic was established in 1996 by Tonko Mardešić, CSc., becoming one of the first private clinics of assisted reproduction in the Czech Republic. Gradually, the PRONATAL Group has grown to include seven more centres, of which GYNCENTRUM Ostrava—now called PRONATAL Ostrava—has been a part since 2016. We also have our own genetic laboratory which allows us to offer complex care. I see its uniqueness mainly in its long history and the knowledge and experience accumulated during that time. Dr. Mardešić currently serves as chairman of the professional board of the entire PRONATAL Group, which is undoubtedly a guarantee of high-quality and safe care for infertile couples. A significant milestone was reached in 2018 when the foreign centres in Europe — Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia — became part of the group. In our centres, we can offer services that are not possible according to the legislation in that country but are possible to local clients in the Czech Republic. Approximately half of our clients are from abroad.
Do you have any idea how many children you have helped into the world in your practice?
Speaking of the whole PRONATAL Group, we could be looking at several thousand children.
You are an official teaching centre of the University of Ostrava Faculty of Medicine. How does this cooperation work?
Yes, we provide internships and placements for both medical and non-medical undergraduate students.
PRONATAL Ostrava is also an accredited workplace of the Ministry of Education for teaching physicians in the field of Reproductive Medicine.
This profession is certainly physically and emotionally demanding. What is your favourite way of relaxing?
It is true that the communication of unfavourable diagnoses and the consultation and analysis of unsuccessful attempts at conception using assisted reproduction methods, which are often perceived by clients as a 100% solution, are emotionally and psychologically demanding for both parties. But that‘s part of the job. That‘s why I like to spend my free time in the mountains or by the water with my closest family.
Thank you very much for the interview.