Reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists, from left, Dr. John Issacs, Dr. John Rushing and Dr. Martha Claire Thomas
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists, from left, Dr. John Issacs, Dr. John Rushing and Dr. Martha Claire Thomas
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Front and Center: John Rushing and Martha Claire Thomas

Published on Monday, November 13, 2023

By: Rachel Vanderford,

Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Photography

In the heart of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is a trio of reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists whose interconnected history brought them closer to patients and to each other.

Dr. John Rushing, Dr. Martha Claire Thomas and Dr. John Isaacs are the pillars of hope for countless individuals wishing to embark on the journey to parenthood.

Rushing was pursuing the legacy of medicine in his father's footsteps as an OB-GYN when his journey in medicine took an unexpected turn. While in his first year of residency at UMMC, he was diagnosed with infertility. Presented with this heartbreaking news, Rushing and his wife soon found themselves under the care of a specialist—Dr. John Isaacs—coincidentally, Rushing's future colleague.

After facing his own infertility struggles, including various treatments, miscarriages, and multiple IVF cycles, Rushing felt a profound empathy for the REI patients. With the support of Isaacs, Rushing and his wife were finally able to have a little one of their own. Encouraged by his experience, the OB-GYN resident was compelled to specialize in REI, embracing the opportunity to support patients in similar situations.

John Rushing

“I think the main thing I want to bring is high-quality care with the latest advancements in treatment for our infertility patients and also be a provider that shows compassionate care because I’ve been in their shoes,” Rushing said. “I know their fears and anxieties. So, I want to walk side by side with them throughout it.”

Thomas’ path, however, was not as clearly defined. After attending UMMC for occupational therapy, she practiced as an occupational therapist for a decade, a profession she thoroughly enjoyed. But Thomas was soon led down a path she hadn’t anticipated when she and her husband encountered unexplained infertility issues.

Two years of sustained difficulty brought Thomas and her husband to Isaacs, who played a pivotal role in helping them have their first child, a healthy baby boy, in 2006. So it came as a surprise, nine months later, when they found out that Thomas was pregnant with their second child.

Martha Thomas

“It was during my second pregnancy when it became very clear to me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Thomas said. “I remember standing in my bathroom blow drying my hair, pregnant with our daughter and thinking about the irony of our situation. It had been so difficult to conceive our first pregnancy and the second came with no difficulty at all. I knew right then that I wanted to help people who were walking through that infertility journey I’d walked through. I honestly felt like it was a calling I could not ignore.”

This calling led her back to UMMC for medical school and then OB-GYN training, where she found herself working alongside Rushing, who was a year ahead of her in residency. Together, they honed their skills for four years before their fellowship training took them in different directions. Rushing embarked on an REI fellowship at the University of Colorado in Denver, while Thomas pursued her own at East Virginia Medical School in Norfolk the following year.

Their paths diverged only briefly before Rushing and Thomas reunited with the UMMC team as REI specialists. Rushing joined the OB-GYN department in June 2022, and in August 2023, Thomas returned to the hospital, making her the first female REI specialist in Mississippi.

John D. Isaacs

Isaacs, their trusted REI physician, is proud to work alongside them today as a mentor and colleague. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with them both,” said Issacs. “They are both wonderful people who are bright, well-trained and easy to work with. They represent the future of reproductive medicine in Mississippi, and I am honored to be part of the beginning of that journey for them.”