The Gift of Life
Main Line Fertility delivers for couples struggling to conceive
by Phil Gianficaro


Sean and Shanna Mckoy were unable to have a baby.


The West Philadelphia couple was married in 2007, and for a full year they tried to conceive, but without success. Shanna, who was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, underwent multiple surgeries and treatments to help change their luck. However, each attempt ended in bitter disappointment and unimaginable heartache.


Shanna began to feel like less of a woman because she could not do what her family, friends and millions of other couples could do so effortlessly. Everybody can have a baby, she thought. Everybody, that is, except me. Her pain also became Sean’s pain, and the realization they might never have a biological child began to siphon the air out of their lives.


“We just couldn’t make a baby, and nobody could figure out why,” he says.


And then, fortuitously, the Mckoys were referred to Dr. Michael J. Glassner, founding partner and head of fertility at Main Line Fertility and Reproductive Medicine in Bryn Mawr. Dr. Glassner gave them hope. More accurately, he gave them Riley Hope Mckoy, their daughter, who recently celebrated her first birthday.


“If there’s a couple having trouble having a baby, I’d take them to lunch, tell them why they have to see Dr. Glassner and drive them to him myself,” Sean Mckoy says. “He gave us what we never thought we’d ever have. I love the man for that.”


The Mckoys’ success story is one of many borne from Dr. Glassner and Main Line Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, a practice dedicated to the continuing scientific advancement in the field of infertility since 1991. The success rate for Main Line Fertility patients: approximately 75 percent.


“I truly believe that with persistence a vast majority of patients will get their dreams,” Dr. Glassner says. “Our responsibility is to make it as painless and easy as it can be. We have to be passionate about what our patients desperately want. It’s an emotional process as well as physical.”


Dr. Glassner and the medical team at Main Line Fertility, which includes Dr. William H. Pfeffer and Dr. John J. Orris, specialize in infertility, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, egg freezing, sperm freezing, artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, egg donation, and genetic and diagnostic testing.


“When a patient comes to us, we get a detailed medical history,” Dr. Orris says. “We do hormonal studies, an ultrasound, check fallopian tubes, check ovulation, and do semen analysis on the husband.


“I like to outline the first year [of treatment] for the patients,” he continues. “It’s a very powerless situation for them, and some feel they’re on a treadmill going nowhere. … We have to let them know the approach we’re going to take.”


About 15 percent of the U.S. population, ages 15 to 44, has impaired fertility, including approximately 7 million women. Each year in the United States, about 750,000 pregnancies are lost due to factors other than abortion.


Dr. Pfeffer, the practice’s co-founder who gained his Doctor of Medicine degree from University of Pennsylvania Medical School, says patients who come to Main Line Fertility early into the process are looking for reassurance rather than the “end-of the-line treatment” often sought by women in their late 30s and older.


“They’re looking to make sure there’s not something terribly wrong, like a low sperm count or a blocked fallopian tube or something just as definitive,” he says. “We want our patients to understand that some people are going to get pregnant and some aren’t, and by coming here their chances are going to be improved. What we’re really giving them is results—the chance of success.”


One in eight women will miscarry, and that number gets much higher as women enter their fourth decade, according to Dr. Orris, who earned his doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He suggests women do a self-assessment of when they want to get pregnant, and also establish a relationship with a qualified professional to help them understand their likelihood of conception.


“Many people don’t realize that even if everything is perfect and you’re in a good age group, your odds of conception are 20 percent to 22 percent a month,” he says. “Proactively addressing the issue obviates a lot of heartbreak so that when they’re ready to get pregnant they at least have that peace of mind, and they also have a relationship with a reproductive endocrinologist if they have any speed bumps along the way. … It’s preventative medicine in respect to reproductive health.”


Making Miracles

For his part, Dr. Glassner brings a wealth of experience to Main Line Fertility. He graduated from Albany Medical College after completing his undergraduate degree and medical school in six years. He served his residency at The Medical College of Pennsylvania and performed his fellowship in reproductive medicine and infertility at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Glassner is a clinical professor at Drexel School of Medicine and a clinical educator at Jefferson Medical School. He is also a founding director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Bryn Mawr Hospital, among the leading IVF centers in the region.


“Our patients do get pregnant relatively quickly,” he says. “And the minority of patients who don’t get pregnant, we get them to a stage [through adoption] where they can still have a family. But most of the time, science will work and they can have a baby of their own.”


Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, especially if a woman has crossed to the other side of her prime child-bearing years.


“That’s why freezing eggs should be a priority for women who are maybe 33, not in a relationship and don’t want to get pregnant until later in life,” says Dr. Glassner. “We’ve had a lot of success in that area. Women need to give themselves a fallback position. … I’ve been doing this since 1991 and it still amazes me. We see an egg, sperm, embryo, and nine months later there’s this miracle.”


For women or couples unsuccessful at having a baby on their own, Dr. Glassner shouldn’t be their fallback position; he should be their first option because, just as he did with the Mckoys, he gives them hope … or whatever other middle name they want to give to their new bundle of joy.


Affordable IVF for All

For some people, receiving in-vitro fertilization treatment can be an expensive proposition. But it doesn’t have to be at Main Line Fertility. The center has been awarded several grants for its participation in research studies that may help offset the cost of treatment for as many as 400 patients over the next two years.


Discounted fertility medication and some free laboratory services are available for patients who qualify. Those who meet the necessary criteria can receive this sharply discounted pricing—as much as $9,000 off advanced IVF treatment, including medication and some procedures.


“At Main Line Fertility, we are dedicated to making our services available to all patients who need them, and that’s why we decided to participate in these studies and receive these grants,” says Dr. Glassner. “Some of these are available now and over the next couple of years, and meanwhile we’re aggressively pursuing other avenues to help our patients with some degree of financial assistance. We also have outside institutions that offer financing.”


Those interested in participating should contact research coordinator Eileen Davies by calling 484-337-8955, or go to the Main Line Fertility website,, for more information.


Main Line Fertility and Reproductive Medicine


Bryn Mawr Hospital

130 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 1000, Bryn Mawr



Paoli Pointe Building

11 Industrial Blvd., Suite 100, Paoli



915 Old Fern Hill Road

Building B, Suite 101, West Chester



Phil Gianficaro is an award-winning writer based in Doylestown.

Rob Hall is a freelance photographer based in Plumsteadville.