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Meet the team in Darlington

Safwat Ashour

Safwat Ashour
Consultant IVF Specialist

Safwat is responsible for running the service for the LWC in the North East. He graduated in 1979 in Cairo, Egypt, and has been a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists since May 1997.

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Shailaja Nair

Deputy Clinical Director

Shailaja has more than 20 years’ experience in fertility and assisted reproduction. Before joining the LWC in 1993, she worked as associate professor in a large teaching hospital and at the Cromwell IVF programme. She has extensive experience in all aspects of assisted conception, with a special interest in the egg sharing and gamete donation programmes. 

Alka Bhide

Vinay Sharma

Lead Consultant

Vinya has 33 years’ experience in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, with a particular interest in assisted conception. She has worked as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at St James’ University Hospital Leeds, and as a lecturer and senior registrar at Kings College Hospital, London.  She is a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and has attained a MBBS, DCH and PhD.

Alka Bhide

Jackie Biro

Nursing Manager

Jackie is our friendly nursing manager at our Darlington clinic. She holds a diploma in adult nursing studies and is a registered general nurse. Jackie has a particular interest in ultrasound scanning and recurrent miscarriage and is the person responsible to the HFEA representing our centre at Darlington. She has been a member of our team since 2008.

Lihua Wen

Lihua Wen

Senior Embryologist

Lihua holds a masters degree in reproduction biology and has a special interest in gamete reproduction. He has over 10 years’ of experience working within reproduction and has been based in Canada and China as an embryologist and laboratory manager. His research into germ cells has also been published in Nature Cell Biology.

Alka Bhide

Laura Cooper


Laura obtained a BSc (Hons) in physiology before completing her embryology training at LWC Darlington. She has been with us for 11 years and has a particular interest in embryo development, vitrification and PGS. Laura also takes responsibility for quality assurance within the clinic to ensure that our work meets the required regulated standards.

Alka Bhide

Janet Owen

Fertility Counsellor

Janet began her career in fertility counselling after completing her MA in 2000. She is an accredited member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and British Infertility Counselling Association. Janet provides an important part of our patient care within the clinic and has been with us since 2004.

'The value of counselling is paramount in infertility,’ says Janet, ‘Patients often feel that they have no one else to share their experience with.'

Fertility open days Open days

Attend a free open day. The next event is on the 21 October.

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Laura’s Story

It was the best birthday present we could have given my dad

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