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Fertility Doctor of the Month, Daniel A. Potter, M.D.

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Daniel A. Potter, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, HRC Fertility

January 2011

FertilityAuthority honors Dr. Daniel Potter as Fertility Doctor of the Month. In addition to his role as the medical director for HRC Fertility in Orange County, California, Dr. Potter is the laboratory director for Gene Security Network. Dr. Potter is being recognized as Fertility Doctor of the Month for his involvement with groundbreaking fertility treatment that increases the chance of having a healthy baby, and his commitment to advocacy for fertility patients.

Evolving Technology in the Infertility Field

Dr. Potter says his fertility practice has greatly evolved — the technology is being used to help treat patients with much more severe forms of infertility today, patients he may not have been able to treat when he first started in 1997.

“The technology allows us to look at the genetics of the embryo in very great detail,” he explains, "so we’re able to determine whether there is the correct number of chromosomes or whether the problem originates from the egg or the sperm. We also use the technology to prevent the transmission of genetic disease, and we use the technology to help people that have families achieve gender balance.”

Dr. Potter says this technology has been 10 years in the making. He has been doing PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) for over a decade, but it’s really the advent of microarray technology that allows him to screen across all chromosomes.

“When we look at an embryo, and we see it’s a nice blastocyst, or hatching blastocyst, we know that it’s metabolically competent, but it’s still just a beauty contest unless you know the genetics,” Dr. Potter explains. “And so when you’re able to say not only is it a beautiful embryo, but it’s a beautiful embryo that has the correct number of chromosomes — that allows us to put even a single embryo back and still achieve pregnancy rates that are as good, or better, as when we put back multiple embryos without screening.” It also helps reduce the incidence of multiple pregnancies.

Dr. Potter says his main interest is taking this technology and finding ways to use it to improve outcomes for fertility patients, improve pregnancy success rates, and also apply it to different problems that had not been contemplated when the technology was being developed. An example is using the technology to analyze products of conception in cases of recurrent miscarriage — to see if they were chromosomally normal and whether the abnormality originated in the egg or in the sperm, or after conception.

“One of the things that’s been really thrilling over the last year as we’ve brought this technology out,” Dr. Potter says, is, “I’ve had the privilege of taking care of patients with this genetic technology where we’re doing things for the first time ever. We had the pleasure of having the first successful case where we prevented Tay-Sachs Disease in a couple that had previously affected children, using this technology that not only identifies the single gene but told us that the embryo was normal. And we’ve had that same privilege with other diseases such as Huntington’s disease and Sickle Cell Anemia."

Patient Advocacy

Another emphasis for Dr. Potter is patient advocacy regarding fertility treatment, making sure that the patient has had a comprehensive evaluation before they embark on fertility treatments: “So they don’t waste time, they don’t waste money and to put them in a position to make an informed decision about treatment,” he says.

“I think one of the most important things that patients can do for themselves is make sure that they’ve had a thorough evaluation of their ovarian reserve prior to initiating treatment,” Dr. Potter explains. That would involve a Clomid challenge test, and antral follicle count and anti mullerian hormone levels. “You don’t want to look at it from just one perspective and say, ‘That looks good.'"

Dr. Potter's philosophy is to find any problems before initiating treatment, “so that we can take steps to address that and also so that the patient can be informed and set their expectations and make a decision based on truth as to whether to invest in fertility treatment," he says. In addition, Dr. Potter believes it’s important to arm patients with what they need to know so when they go to their OB/GYN or fertility docto,r they know the questions to ask, and the tests they should have done.

Dr. Potter cites his personal experience as an infertility patient (he has two children from in vitro fertilization (IVF)) and his patient advocacy as his motivation to try and improve the field of infertility. It’s that attitude and that ability that has led FertilityAuthority to feature Dr. Potter as Doctor of the Month.