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Doctor of the Month: Kevin L. Winslow, M.D.
For his groundbreaking work in fertility preservation, FertilityAuthority recognizes Dr. Kevin L. Winslow as Doctor of the Month. A pioneer in cryopreservation (egg freezing), Dr. Winslow’s practice, Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine has the second highest number of pregnancies from frozen eggs in the United States. To date 65 babies have been born in his practice, the first 13 years ago. Approximately 1,000 babies have been born worldwide from frozen eggs.
“We’ve done [egg freezing] under an IRB (internal review board) approved protocol, meaning that I have to answer to a board of peers about every six months regarding the efficacy and safety of the procedure,” Winslow says. “It still should be considered research. I think it’s important for people to realize that the experience with cryopreserved eggs is still relatively limited,” he adds.
Who Should Consider Egg Freezing?
The patients to whom Winslow offers the egg freezing protocol fall into three primary groups: female cancer patients who are facing potentially sterilizing treatments like chemotherapy; women up to age 38 who are not ready to have a child; and infertility patients who are morally or ethically opposed to freezing embryos.
On average, for a woman younger than 35, one stimulation cycle with 10 mature eggs will result in an ongoing pregnancy. (Winslow has found in that age group the average stimulation cycle will yield about 14 eggs, of which 10 may be mature eggs.)
For individuals above 35 and up to age 38, he sees an average of about 12 eggs equating with an ongoing pregnancy. “A lot of those individuals may not get 12 mature eggs and may have to go through more than one stimulation cycle to have a good chance of having a pregnancy,” Winslow says.
He says women 38 and older do not benefit from egg freezing, as they have such a high percentage of abnormal eggs.
Egg Freezing Protocols
There are two primary means of freezing eggs: the slow freeze protocol and vitrification, which is a “fast freeze” protocol. Winslow says, “We have been much, much happier with the slow freeze protocol, and all of our pregnancies are from the slow freeze protocol.”
“We worked with vitrification early on, and we saw much better results with slow freeze,” he adds. “Certainly over the last three to four years there has been a lot more work with vitrification, and it’s a much, much simpler procedure and … certainly the results have improved. But we’ve continued to use a slow freeze protocol because of our experience with it. We didn’t see any reason to change; our pregnancy rates were very high.”
Winslow works closely with embryologist Dr. Dunzong Yang whom he brought to Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine 14 years ago, and whom he describes as “the pioneer with the slow freeze protocol.”
“My special interest has always been fertility preservation,” Winslow says, “And so our interests melded well. We put this cryopreservation program together. Clearly Dr. Yang is the scientist and the one who is working on all the technical issues.”
Many Years of Experience
Winslow is the Founder and Director of Florida Institute of Reproductive Medicine, now it its 20th year. The practice looks very similar to most large reproductive technology practices, but with an emphasis on fertility preservation.
Winslow says, “I did a rotation with a reproductive medicine specialist during my third year of residency and found it fascinating and liked the science and the new technologies – the cutting edge stuff.” After his residency, Winslow did a fellowship at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, VA. He refers to Drs. Howard and Georgianna Jones as “the patron saints of modern day IVF” – the first IVF baby in the U.S. was born at the Jones Institute, after all.
Winslow is also on the board of Fertile Hope, a national LIVESTRONG initiative for cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.
FertilityAuthority applauds Dr. Winslow’s work, which offers women who might not otherwise have a baby, the opportunity to do so.