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The Polyclinic of Can Tho City in southern Vietnam officially launched in vitro fertilization services on March 24 to assist couples with reproductive problems. The General Hospital of Can Tho City is the first hospital in the Mekong Delta and the 13th in Vietnam offering artificial insemination. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed.

The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Prior to that, there was a transient biochemical pregnancy reported by Australian researchers in 1973 and an ectopic pregnancy reported by Steptoe and Edwards in 1976. The hospital's Infertility Department has selected 10 cases childless couples aged 22-32, who have been treated for 1-2 years without results, for the first test-tube fertilizations, said Le Quang Vo, Director of Can Tho hospital. These couples were previously treated by normal methods for over a year.

The results of the first 10 cases of in vitro fertilization are scheduled for May 20 at a cost of some 40 million dong per case, which is nearly $2000. The Can Tho Polyclinic aims to become the first hospital in the Mekong Delta and the third hospital in Vietnam to succeed in in-vitro insemination. It is important to bring out that the Can Tho Hospital has invested nearly 10 billion dong (nearly $560,000) in its infertility ward, and is able to carry out 150 in-vitro operations a month.

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