IVF clinic in West Des Moines brings reproductive care expertise—and convenience—closer to home for central Iowans

Parents hugging and kissing baby

Tanya Lovan was preparing to start another round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in late 2020 when she heard about the new West Des Moines location of the University of Iowa Center for Advanced Reproductive Care.

Tanya and her husband, Rico, had been trying to conceive for a decade and were looking for a new option after years of failure. The couple had already spent more than $30,000 and countless hours of heartache on painful egg retrievals and multiple failed embryo transfers.

“I felt like my clock was literally ticking,” Tanya says. “I had to do something.”

She made an appointment at the West Des Moines clinic in January 2021.

Serving central Iowa

Open since November 2020, the new location is an expansion of UI Health Care’s infertility care to the Des Moines area to better serve central Iowans. Patients still travel to the UI Center for Advanced Reproductive Care in Iowa City, where the center’s accredited laboratory is located, for egg retrievals and embryo transfers. All other clinical care, including infertility diagnosis and intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures, happens locally.

A national leader for elective single-embryo transfers, UI Health Care has the highest success rate in Iowa—10% higher than the national average for pregnancy success.

“We have an amazing team,” says reproductive endocrinologist Abigail Mancuso, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We’re all very patient-focused and there to make sure that the patient feels like an individual, that we’re really looking at their case individually, and that their voice is heard.”

Different level of treatment

The Lovans realized from their first visit that they were receiving a different level of treatment. Their introductory conversation with Mancuso lasted three hours, combing over every detail of their medical histories. During a standard baseline transvaginal ultrasound, a clinic sonographer noticed that one of Tanya’s fallopian tubes was dilated and filled with fluid—a finding Tanya says no other provider ever mentioned.

“We have excellent sonographers,” Mancuso says. “It’s not uncommon for us to find things that haven’t been seen before.”

Because the fluid from a damaged fallopian tube can create a toxic uterine environment for an embryo, Mancuso says, the condition is associated with a 50% decrease in IVF success. In a follow-up surgery, Mancuso removed both of Tanya’s fallopian tubes after finding the second one damaged, as well.

Lovan IVF pregnancy announcement

‘Fresh transfer’

By June 2021, Tanya was fully recovered from surgery, and she and Rico traveled to Iowa City for their egg retrieval. Five days later, Tanya underwent a “fresh transfer” of one of the three resulting embryos.

Tanya, a quality analyst in the insurance industry, was at her office in early July when she got a call from a nurse at the UI Center for Advanced Reproductive Care.

“I went to a separate little room and they're like, ‘You're pregnant,’” Tanya says, remembering her disbelief. “Never once have I been pregnant ... I sat on the phone with [the nurse] for a little bit like, ‘Are you sure these are my results?’”

Tanya used FaceTime to call Rico, who saw her tear-stained face and expected the worst.

“As sad as it sounds, we were so used to bad news,” Tanya says. “We thought maybe we would never get there. We didn’t think our first transfer at the new clinic would have taken.”

Newborn photo of baby Lovan

IVF dream comes true

Tanya’s pregnancy lasted 40 weeks. In March 2022, she gave birth to daughter, Rayna Tun Lovan, who weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and, by all accounts, looks just like her father.

Holding her daughter, Tanya says, made her long wait for motherhood a distant memory.

“The whole journey of IVF, all that was forgotten,” she says. “Our dream has finally come true. She’s finally here.”

The name Rayna is a nod to Rico’s middle name, Ray, and Tun was the name of Rico’s grandmother, who died at age 96 just before Tanya became pregnant.

“I wanted to name her after [Rico] because he had given me every single shot for IVF. He organized all our IVF meds,” Tanya says. “He made sure that I never missed any step. He took care of us. Even though it was me that went through all the physical work, he was the one that did all of it for us.”

Life with Rayna

A few months into parenthood, the Lovans are adjusting to life with Rayna, who doesn’t like to wait long for her bottle of breastmilk, Tanya says. She and Rico hurry to warm one when Rayna emits little cries in her sleep.

“We’re learning,” Tanya says. “It’s going great.”

The Lovans say they’ve already recommended the West Des Moines clinic and Mancuso to other local couples experiencing fertility problems. They appreciated Mancuso’s reassurance and the individualized attention they received.

“Dr. Mancuso, she is an angel in disguise,” Tanya says. “Without her patience and her compassion... I don't think our dream of having this family would have come true.”

Des Moines, Iowa