Wonders still happen

I’m driving my kids to school, and to the daycare center. The German singer Nena is on the radio, singing “Wunder gescheh’n,” a late ’80s song whose title reminds us that wonders and miracles do indeed happen. In this pandemic time, I have switched to an oldies station; the others were too fixated on reports about the coronavirus for my liking.

I drop the older children off at school on this, the last day before lockdown; the two smaller ones are singing along with Nena, even if they do not understand the lyrics. Then “Jerusalema” comes on. I’m not sure why it’s on an oldies station – maybe it’s just timeless. Certainly, it truly is a wonder how our colleagues in the hospitals are working to the limit every day – and can then dance their stress, grief and hope in the “Jerusalema” challenge; the video shot inside Fresenius Helios hospitals is now posted on YouTube, and this morning the kids could hardly be pulled away from it. We left for school too late. Everything takes time.

I believe better times are coming after the coronavirus; we will get through this. I’m also delighted to announce our little private miracle: once again we are pregnant!

Wonderful news, especially this year. It reminds you what matters most, even in times of crisis. This sheer wonder – the miracle of life – accentuates continuance; it hones our focus on the future, brings joy, and arouses curiosity. All parents will know that feeling of happiness – bound up with a healthy dose of respect for the task ahead, and questions about the baby not yet born. Such feelings are especially intense with the first child, because everything is new – but these feelings come back for each subsequent child.

Dr. Francesco De Meo; Member of the Management Board of Fresenius responsible for the business segment Fresenius Helios

But what about people who want to experience this joy, and yet, for whatever reason, cannot have children? Perhaps they cannot get their heads around the idea of adopting children, because they hang on to the idea of having their “own” child. These people may well accept the reality of never being parents, which for many still allows for a totally happy and fulfilled life. But a growing number of them keep planning to conceive a child. They want to experience the miracle themselves – and who can blame them? They search for ways to make their dream come true. And find help – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

In Germany, they can go to fertility centers. The term fertility – or, more technically, reproductive medicine – covers a wide array of treatments. The legal rules vary; so do the fees and financing. In every case, though, the aim is to meet an unfulfilled wish for a child. In Spain, we already have around 20 fertility clinics: They support nearly 7,000 would-be parents every year and have assisted in the birth of more than 50,000 children so far.

At work, too, we too are “pregnant”: On Monday, we announced an acquisition that I find deeply heartening, and not just because of the coronavirus. We are acquiring the world’s second-largest provider of reproductive medicine, with 65 clinics in nine countries (mainly in Spain, the United States and Latin America, but also in Italy, Sweden and Denmark). We expect the takeover to be concluded by the summer. The provider in question is the Eugin Group, which was founded in Barcelona, where we are also represented with fertility clinics. The group has achieved global expansion via numerous takeovers, which is something we at Fresenius also know about. In terms of the ethical standards, quality and entrepreneurship, we are an excellent match.

Looking at the Eugin fertility clinics and our own clinics combined, together we have helped nearly 200,000 wishes for children come true. And don’t forget, 70,000 babies are already being born every year in our German and Spanish hospitals. A few weeks ago, a mother and father at one of our hospitals in Munich chose to name their child Helios.

Clearly, then, this is a familiar trend we want to build on. Our contribution to the many small miracles that make up life will grow. Especially in the outpatient area, Eugin makes an ideal addition to the Helios portfolio – and to an equal degree across Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. As we provide services to people and help spread the joy of life, we will make people happy – just as we already do with our hospitals, outpatient clinics and health centers. With a clear focus on helping people who wish for a child: Already on an international basis and – with an eye to the future – around the world.

Everything harmonizes with our existing facilities and proven abilities. In Germany, Spain and South America, we can now ideally supplement our gynecological practices. Meanwhile, in the digital environment, we will also be providing prospective parents with expert advice and guidance throughout their challenging journey via an online platform and suitable apps, applying ethical responsibility from start to finish.

What more could one wish for? In a time of crisis, a takeover that fits. We prevailed over stiff competition, and yet secured an attractive price. We now have the platform for worldwide growth. We just need to make a strong start, seize the chance to grow, and exploit the evident possibilities of networking.

Wonders do happen! Who would have thought we could actually realize an acquisition like this in the time of coronavirus? When the chance arose, we seized it with both hands, in true Fresenius style. The task now is to bring our new baby into the family and make it even more successful.

After drop-offs at the school and the daycare center, my youngest child comes home with me; he has dozed off. On the radio, coronavirus news has caught up with us; even the oldies station can’t avoid it. Thankfully, we at Fresenius can still summon the energy and the courage to move into new business areas. That fosters pride and confidence.

Back home, with the bigger kids no longer around, I go to put away the iPad, but stop to take another look at the YouTube video of our colleagues in the Helios hospitals taking the “Jerusalema” dance challenge. I find the campaign moving, something to keep us all strong. The rhythm takes me on a timeless journey, leaving behind the ubiquitous subject of coronavirus; it turns my thoughts to the future, making me feel happy and expectant.

Jerusalema Challenge by Helios

Despite the virus, there are still things to look forward to – including our child, who is due to arrive in the summer.

Helios Fertility will also be going global, thanks to the Eugin Group, which we will integrate and further develop. This latest member of the Fresenius family is a child very much wished for. Wonders really do happen. Sometimes even at work!


Francesco De Meo