Turkey has become the preferred destination for couples from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and even the United States who seek in vitro fertilization so they can have babies.

The secret of success: a cutting-edge technology comparable to that of the best European and American clinics at prices up to five times cheaper...and a welcoming atmosphere.

"Five years ago my husband and I wanted to have kids, and though we're both fertile, I could only get pregnant through assisted fertilization, a treatment that in the United States costs some $16,000 for having it done just once," Sarah Flores Sievers, director of a public health program in Santa Fe, New Mexico, told Efe.

"We faced a dilemma: do we pay our mortgage and our bills or do we have a baby?" Sievers said.

Even something as simple as a vaginal sperm injection, according to her husband, Fletcher Sievers, costs between $2,500 and $3,000 in the United States.

For that price a patient in Turkey can get the most advanced in vitro fertilization technology with a 40 to 55 percent rate of success, Bulent Tiras, head doctor of the fertility treatment unit at Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul, said.

Most of his patients are Turks, but Tiras estimates that from 10 to 15 percent come from abroad, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Balkans where the technology is less developed, as well as from Arab countries and Central Asia. EFE