Dr. Ron Clisham is a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist who completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans, his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles,CA, and his fellowship in Andrology at UC-Davis School of Medicine, Davis CA. Dr. Clisham returned to New Orleans after completing his training and has served on the faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University School of Medicine in the role of Section Chief in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility holding the academic rank of full professor. He also holds the endowed Chair for the John Rock Professorship in Reproductive Physiology. He continues to serve in his teaching and research role in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Clisham’s clinical interests include nutrition and metabolism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, advanced laparoscopy, menopause, and uterine fibroids. His research interests include the study of Mycoplasma in tubal infertility and osteoporosis. Dr. Clisham was named one of “New Orleans Top Fertility Doctors” in NOLA Baby Magazine Readers Survey, in 2008, 2012 and 2015.5.
My Fertility Journey
During my second year of residency, my cousin, Linda, called me to talk. She shared with me, her story of going through fertility treatments. She had the unfortunate circumstance of a problem called premature ovarian failure, which impaired her ability to conceive, at an early age. Faced with this dilemma, she looked for other avenues, including adoption, as a way to create her family. This was at a time when in-vitro fertilization was in its infancy and egg donation had only been accomplished in farm animals. In the state that she lived, the only adoption services available were of specific religious affiliations, none of which she was a member. She asked me what I knew about adoption. I told her that I knew very little, but that I would look into adoption services in New Orleans.
Over the next couple of weeks, I made phone calls to a number of adoption agencies in the New Orleans area. These included Catholic Charities, the Sellar’s Home (Baptist), Jewish Family Services, and Volunteers of America. The programs were similar in their requirements, and restrictive to whom they would provide services to.
During my search for information, I met an attorney, Fred Wild, who was developing an adoption practice for clients with limited resources or opportunities. In sharing our stories with each other, we realized the dilemma that infertile couples faced in creating their families through adoption. After some discussion, we opted to partner our skills and talents and create an agency named “New Family Adoptions Services”, that was non-restrictive regarding religious affiliation, non- profit, and low cost. What Fred and I wanted to do with our non-traditional concept, was to give infertile couples “hope”, by creating other options.
Fred handled the legal matters. I worked on the infrastructure that included hiring our social workers Beth and Genevieve who performed our home studies. Within six months, we were recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization, and by the State of Louisiana as a private, licensed adoption service.
We recruited an army of volunteers, held bake sales, car washes, anything that could generate revenue to run the agency. In 1984, we arranged for the care of our first teen with an unplanned pregnancy. Later that year, we made our first placement with an adoptive, infertile couple. In the process of all this, I found my future calling.
In 1986, I completed my residency and moved to California to begin a reproductive endocrinology and infertility fellowship at UCLA. Fred continued the operation of the agency. Over the next ten years, New Family made placements with over thirty infertile couples, before closing in 1994.
As for my cousin, she eventually adopted through an adoption service in the state where she lived, fulfilling the goal of her journey. Funny how her problem with infertility and her phone call to me, impacted my life. It changed the direction of my career path to the one that I would eventually follow.
In July, 1991, after completing my residency training, I accepted a position in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Tulane University School of Medicine as Section Chief in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. I’ve been here ever since, doing what I enjoy most, working with infertile couples, hopefully helping a few in the process.