Industry insight

Mari Sälevaara – Walking along the couples through fertility treatments

“It is actually a pure coincidence that I am working with fertility treatments,” laughs Mari. “I had just finished my specialization at Tampere, and was planning moving to Helsinki, where my husband had his job. In our industry everyone knows each other, so I got a call from the Väestöliitto Fertility Clinic Helsinki, and was asked if I wanted to work for them.”

Mari Sälevaara is one of the doctors of Väestöliitto Fertility Clinic Helsinki. She has been working with fertility treatments since 2002. Quick Google search reveals multiple conversations praising this woman. In these comments she is described as wonderful and empathic, and somebody writes that she is a doctor, who has a big heart for understanding people and their lives.

The most rewarding part of Mari’s work is when the treatments succeed and babies are born.

“The greatest moment is when I’m performing an ultrasound examination and I find a living fetus in the womb. It’s an amazing moment, every time. The whole team is working hard together, and the laboratory is the place where the most important work is done,” Mari praises her colleagues.

Fertility treatments take time and patience, and the results are never guaranteed for all couples. According to Mari, handling the psychological side of the treatments is the most challenging part in her work. ”The treatments themselves are usually schematic and routine. A lot of motivating and supporting is needed to convince the couples that the baby might not come into being already next week.”

“Then there are couples who won’t get their baby despite having the treatments,” she says. “To me the hardest part is to walk the couple out without a child. Even then the couples might thank me for all the shared years.” To Mari knowing that she have been able to create a good relationship with the couple and that they trust and know we have done every possible thing for them, and that is greatly rewarding.

Is having a donor egg still a taboo in 2010s?

Mari is on a research leave at the moment. She is studying how the families are doing after having a donor baby. These families are close to her heart.

“I think it is fascinating when the child is not genetically yours. What is the child’s position after birth? Every child should be told how they were conceived, but it’s not self-evident for parents to tell this,” she tells.

According to Mari nowadays the attitude is significantly more receptive: Still in the 90’s going through fertility treatments was kept in secret – parents couldn’t talk about it even if the treatment was done with their own eggs. In the early 2000s, 70 % of parents who had gone through fertility treatments planned to tell their child his or her origin. Nowadays the number is 90 %. General receptiveness and acceptance has increased, and that has relieved shame around the subject.

“There are so many different families and everything is more accepted. Not all couples are willing to have a donor egg, while some couples are willing to consider all options from the very first moment,” she says.

Mari uses Kaiku Health in her work mainly for communicating with the customer. The application has been in use at their clinic for about three years now.

“Kaiku is a great help in communicating, especially with foreign clients who can understand written Finnish or English better than spoken. Also, we have many customers living outside Helsinki. With them Kaiku makes planning the treatments and sending documents easier. I have noticed that for our clients, it’s a lot easier to contact their care team with Kaiku than by phone. Of course it takes time to answer the messages in writing, but it’s still relatively quick compared to phone calls and can be done at any time of the day.”



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