Following The Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology conference in Punta Cana, Casa de Campo Living reached out to its main speakers, Dr. Frank A. Chervenak and Dr. Isaac Kligman, both prominent gynecologists from the New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center for a few questions on their interests and experiences in the field. Dr. Chervenak serves as the head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine, while Dr. Kligman is also a member of the department and of the Center for Reproductive and Infertility Medicine. Together they share a passion for working with patients and providing them with life-changing outcomes using specialized medical care.
Dr. Isacc Kligman
Dr. Isacc Kligman has been a reproductive endocrinologist since 1995, and since his first residency in OB/GYN in Bogotá, Colombia says he found the creation of life fascinating. He realized that infertility required as much help as patients with any other disease and joined the University of Pennsylvania for a research fellowship to start on the path to become a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Eight years later, he was an infertility specialist.
Could you share with us a little bit about the history of the New York Presbyterian Hospital?
The Presbyterian Hospital was founded in 1868 by James Lenox, a New York philanthropist and was associated with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. An interesting fact about our hospital is that Dr. George Papanicolau, the inventor of the PAP test (cytology smear to detect cancer of the cervix), did all his research while working as a pathologist at the New York Hospital in 1925! The division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility was established about 30 years ago.
What has been accomplished so far in the field that has been significant?
The advent of ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection) where you take a sperm from a man with a significant male factor and inject it directly into the eggs, has proven to be a revolutionary discovery in the field of in vitro fertilization and has helped about 40% of patients with infertility to conceive. Research in PGS (pre implantation genetic screening) has allowed practitioners in the field to test embryos before they are transferred to the uterus. Many other developments such as the application of stem cells are still in early stages of research.
Are you exceptionally proud of any particular experience with a patient?
There have been many instances when patients come to our office being hopeless and with the available technology we can very frequently turn their fate around. One patient came to my office with impending ovarian failure. We were able to retrieve 2 eggs and she got pregnant with twins!
Following the “Advances in the prevention of female health” conference what do you think benefitted audience members the most?
All the conferences from local and invited speakers were very well attended. We had many opportunities to exchange ideas and I was asked very interesting questions by the audience. The biggest take away message is that the treatment of infertility is one of the fields of medicine that has witnessed most advances. Meetings like the Obstetrics and Gynecology congress in Punta Cana should always be offered to everyone that works in the field. Although it requires a monumental effort from the organizers, at the end, our patients benefit from our constant quest to be up to date.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing women for childbirth today?
I believe that it is of utmost importance to provide good medical care to all pregnant women. This is the first step to avoiding complications that may result in long-lasting conditions that may affect the well-being of the mother and their babies.
Dr. Isaac Kligman tells Casa de Campo Living that as a worldwide volunteer lecturer he’s been humbled by the condition of medical care in certain countries around the world:
“I volunteer lecturing to physicians from the former eastern European block on how to update the medical care provided to patients with infertility. I feel that I want to give back to the part of the world where I am from and every opportunity that I have, I lecture in South America.” – Dr. Isaac Kligman
Dr. Frank A. Chervenak
With 34 years of experience in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and a sub-speciality in maternal-fetal medicine, Dr. Frank A. Chervenak says since childhood he wanted to be a physician. After his OBGYN rotation, he knew it was the field for him.
What is your favorite thing about working directly with patients?
It is such a privilege to counsel patients and help them with difficult decisions in a professional, ethical manner.
What’s one of the most special outcomes you’ve had with a patient?
There are many; each and every birth is beautiful. Perhaps the most important is when I have seen a patient who was advised to have an abortion because her fetus was abnormal, and I perform an ultrasound and find that the fetus is fine and the result is a saved life!
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any? Any international work?
I am actively involved in many international efforts including our Ian Donald ultrasound school which teaches in over 100 countries, the world association of perinatal medicine, international academy of perinatal medicine, president of the international society of the fetus as a patient and chairman of the FIGO ethics committee.
Along with his presentation, “Counseling a Patient with Diagnostic Fetal Abnormality,” Dr. Chervenak expressed fond memories of one of the great pioneers in obstetrics, Vinetzio Calventi from Santo Domingo. He said that the conference was an excellent international meeting where the exchange of ideas passed between leaders of the Dominican Republic and left all participants refreshed and ready to return home and provide better care for their parents. Dr. Chervenak’s son who is graduating medical school will also follow in his father’s footsteps in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.
“I believe that medicine is more than a profession…it is a vocation. It enables us to help others in the most meaningful way.” – Dr. Frank A. Chervenak