The Business Year

Elsamawal El Hakim

Founder & Medical Director, Ferticlinic Fertilization Centre

Michael Fakih

CEO & Founder, Blue Ocean Health

Bringing the highest levels of expertise available in the field of fertility to Abu Dhabi, FertiClinic and Blue Ocean Healthcare focus on specialized teams, advanced equipment, and integrated medicine to ensure the delivery of healthy babies.
How would you define the company’s mission and key values?

ELSAMAWAL EL HAKIM FertiClinic is a fertility clinic project that came to the UAE in 2018. Our work is not just about assessing a couple medically and providing general treatment; we offer individualized treatment. We have fertility teams that specialize in men’s and women’s fertility, respectively, as well as a laboratory and a team with exceptional specialties in the IVF process and experience working in Europe. We also brought in high-end equipment, protocols, and medications to improve our clients’ chances and help couples in the UAE conceive. We are also working on freezing and storing the eggs of women who want to delay pregnancy for whatever reason. We not only freeze eggs but also sperm for men who are seeking medical treatment for cancer, for example, or suffer from chronic medical conditions that could affect the quality of their sperm in the future. We are also the only clinic using AI in the UAE and even the Gulf. We employ a system called iMatcher from the UK system that matches couples and their sperm and eggs at every certain step with software and software detectors.

MICHAEL FAKIH The backbone of Blue Ocean Healthcare is maternal health and part of that is OBGYN as in fertility, genetics and now the wellness and holistic integrated medicine approach in the treatment of couples. I started as an IVF doctor in the US many years ago, and I have been doing this for the past 30 years. The first IVF baby in the US was born in 1981. When I started the IVF unit in Ohio, such units were in limited supply but then multiplied worldwide. IVF was the framework and the backbone of the company. With time, we evolved pregnancy to ensuring the health of infants. Pregnancy is susceptible to multiple complications that need to be prevented. That is the reason we have hospitals that perform assessments and diagnoses and deliver treatment. We do not implant an embryo until we are sure that that the donor will have no complications with the pregnancy. We take a holistic approach to the patient, including their genetics. Blue Ocean Health presents an integrated approach between many disciplines to bring about our main aim of delivering a healthy baby.

What have been your contributions to regional innovations in reproductive medicine?

EEH Our team has been representing the UAE and Abu Dhabi at numerous conferences. We have also presented publications and research papers in the last few years, using our own local data. This has not only spurred many other clinics to introduce similar practices but has also improved the quality of our treatments, because we now have a better understanding of the local community. For example, we now screen embryos or babies for certain genetic disorders that run in many of the tribes in the Gulf. We are also part of the Emirati Genome program, a massive local program led by G42 Labs and supported by the government to screen the entire nation for genetic mutations and conditions. We do a large number of genetic research and treatment, conducting biopsies for more than 1,000 eggs a month. Though we only started in 2018, our business has grown extensively, and due to high demand, we had to open another clinic, double the size of this clinic, in Sharjah located in Sahara Healthcare City. We also received approval to open our third clinic in Ras Al Khaimah.

MK Our genetics lab is a big part of Blue Ocean. We started with a small lab within the clinic in 2012, and over time we developed it with new equipment and technologies, and highly specialized doctors whereby today it probably ranks among the top three facilities in the GCC. It is currently first in diagnosing embryo-related issues. We have a lab where we take a microscopic sample of the embryo and check for diseases and abnormalities in chromosome counts. At that stage, we do the biopsy and then freeze the embryo. This is an integrated procedure that helps protect many embryos for future use. We were the first to adopt every new technology that was adopted in IVF. The government in Abu Dhabi has developed a genetics lab known as G42. They are testing all citizens to check whether they carry disease or not. If we know that the couple is carrying any disease, then we cannot use their embryo. This is an important development over the past few years and is proving extremely successful.

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