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Doctor of the Month: Dr. Maria Bustillo

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Maria Bustillo, M.D.
South Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine

September 2010

Dr. Maria Bustillo’s treatment philosophy hasn’t changed in the 29 years she’s been a fertility doctor: Do the right thing for the right patient, be honest and provide the most ethical care possible. “That is always my guiding principal,” says Bustillo, a physician with South Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine.

Patients should weigh the risks – including psychological and financialand benefits of fertility treatment, Bustillo says. While “a 45-year-old may not want to hear that I don’t think she should do IVF,” Bustillo believes it’s important that she relay that information in the best way she can and show data to the patient that supports her recommendations. She is known to refer patients to psychological counseling to help them reach resolution rather than do repeated treatments that are not likely going to yield a good result.

Just as her philosophy hasn’t changed, neither have Bustillo’s interests: the actual reproductive technology.

Involved in ART for Many Years

“I’ve had an awesome career because I have been involved in [fertility treatment] since the very beginning,” Bustillo says and explains that she has been doing IVF since 1981, and was one of the first to use ultrasound-guided egg retrieval.

Bustillo was involved with the first egg donation in this country in 1983. “I devised a tool to get the embryo out of one uterus and put it in another – a uterine luage – a donor egg tool,” she says. She’s also been interested in implantation failure since the 1990s and what she calls “very controversial topics,” such as reproductive immunology including IVIg (intravenous immunoglobulin g, made of human antibodies that may minimize the actions of natural killer cells that prevent an embryo from implanting).

Her Interests Today

What’s really piquing Bustillo’s interest today? “I think now the biggest thing is genetics. It’s really important. I think we’ve pushed to try to figure out how we can transfer one embryo only and get a good pregnancy rate,” Bustillo says. “So my newest interest is PGD, but the newest way of doing it, which is micro array — looking at all the chromosomes.”

And where does she stand on egg freezing? “I think it’s still quite a bit experimental, and I think we have to be really careful that we’re not selling people who want to preserve their fertility because they’re 33,” Bustillo says. We don’t know what realistic expectations might be. [Our practice has] done egg freezing, and we have a patient who had a baby from frozen eggs a couple of years ago, but we pretty much reserve it for cancer patients. We’re not offering it for social reasons,” she adds.

FertilityAuthority applauds Dr. Bustillo’s work. In honor of her interest in innovation and technology, and her patient-focused philosophy, FertilityAuthority is proud to recognize Dr. Bustillo as Doctor of the Month.