How was your experience with Michael Opsahl at Poma Fertility?
Dr. Opsahl was recommended by a friend-of-a-friend who conceived under his care with her own eggs and sperm as an older, first-time IVF patient (38). We had come from another clinic in the Seattle area and were hesitant about changing clinics.
Our first meeting with Dr. Opsahl did not go well. He is not overly warm, very direct. As a teacher, I may need a little more "hand-holding" than he is capable of offering. He was very clear in his expectation that we would have almost less than a 7% chance to carry a child to term (age 42, own eggs). My husband felt that he did not want us as clients due to my age. Although Dr. Opsahl's information and delivery was off-putting, I thought about the reference we were given: that this doctor would handle each step of our treatment personally--each ultrasound he would complete, each mock transfer, and the transfer itself. This was a deciding factor in proceeding with Dr. Opsahl at POMA Fertility in Kirkland, Washington.
A specific example of our experience after our frist of two egg retrievals for insemination: I was hopeful and we were discussing the embryo quality in his office after retrieval. I was told that we had, "...one quality embryo...and one poor quality embryo." With a quick smile I said, "So they are all rockstars, right!" And he repeated, "...one quality embryo...and one poor quality embryo." My heart sank.
I realize now, especially since he was the second doctor we had worked with for treatment, that he did not want to raise our hopes beyond a realistic expecation. However, his delivery, although accurate I'm sure, felt void of feeling and I left worried and disappointed.
Dr. Opsahl never mentioned donor eggs for our treatment. I never mentioned donor eggs, either. I find this surprising now, after being a part of so many support groups. It seems many women of my age are not offered treatment due to their age and doctors do not want to work with the eggs of a woman over 40. Positively, I never found that to be the case with Dr. Opsahl. He relayed clear expectations of our chances to conceive, even though they were bleak. I was not at a point to discuss donor eggs and I appreciate his willingness to work with us. He recommended two retrieval cycels, one frozen and one fresh. These combined cycles would be allowed to grow together for the best results and greates number of transfer since it was not expected that our embryos would make it to genetic screening. We followed his advice and had two retrievals that resulted in one transfer of 5 untested embryos. One resulted in a healthy, bright, bubbly baby boy who just turned 13 months old!
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Michael Opsahl at Poma Fertility?
The advice I would give to a prospective patient of Dr. Opsahl's is: prepare to be "low-balled." I think he will work with the worst-case scenario so as not to raise expectations. This can be painful to hear. However, the personal care you will recieve will outweigh the discomfort of the moment. He will know your case, your body, your goals and work with you!
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Michael Opsahl at Poma Fertility?
Our care was customized, we felt that Dr. Opsahl truly took the time to personally handle all of our medical issues and requirements which was certainly positive. My other experience at another fertility clinic did not have the same personal depth that we were shown at POMA Fertility in Kirkland, Washington. Dr. Opsahl completed each ultrasound, mock transfer, and explanation/discussion while the other clinic had a different non-doctor (medical staff) complete these procedures which left of feeling that we were unknown to them. This personal handling of all our fertility treatment made us feel confident in POMA Fertility, our doctor, and lab. Dr. Opsahl also made a recommendation for acupuncture at a nearby clinic, Abundant Spring, which we believe impacted our success greatly.
The one drawback of POMA Fertility may be Dr. Opsahl's bedside manner. He is very direct and, I believe, will lower your expectations so as not to raise your expectations to an unrealistic perspective. As a 42 year old woman and 41 year old male, seeking IVF with our own eggs and sperm, our outlook for success was below 12%. My husband was very discouraged in our first meeting with Dr. Opsahl and wanted to look elsewhere for help. However, we were referred by a friend-of-a-friend who had twins with her own eggs at 38 and I wanted to try with POMA Fertility. It may be that, as fertility patients, we are ultra-sensitive during this stressful time in our lives and we were too sensitive to Dr. Opsahl's directness in his assessment of our chances to conceive.
Describe the protocols Michael Opsahl used in your cycles at Poma Fertility and their degree of success.
Second Treatment for fresh retrival (age 42):
10 days of injectable hormones
Day 1: Menopur 150 iu in the am
Gonal F 450 iu in the pm
Day 3: estrogen and bloodwork
Day 6: ultrasound and bloodwork
Trigger shot: 10,000u (Pregnyl @ 5,000iu)
Ganirelix.25mg, Crinone 8% gel, baseline ultrasound, and baby aspirin
My fertility treatments began with a uterus hystogram (not sure if that is the right terminology). The mapping of my uterus and tubes for blockage. No blockage was found. Many find this procedure painful but I did not have any growths or blocked tubes and so I found it pretty akin to a regular pap smear.
Secondly, I underwent an ultrasound for a baseline measure of uterine lining.
I was then placed on injectable hormones for a period of 10 days. My injections were in my stomache and daily. I was able to self-inject all medications. I have heard of inter-muscular shots and they sound horrific and many needing help to complete their injections. These were never discussed or prescribed. Although my stomache became a little bruised and tender, it was well worth the discomfort.
I used a trigger shot for my egg retrieval. I went to the clinic so that my last ultrasound and mock transfer could be completed. I was placed under anesthesia and my eggs were retrieved. Our first retrieval included sperm injection. My husband began taking supplements and sperm injections were not needed for our second retrieval.
Five of six surviving embryos were transferred on Day 3 of lab growth. Our embryos were not pgs tested. Our last remaining embryo did not survive the night. We were successful in carrying one child to term with a low positive blood test of 38.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Poma Fertility. (Assigned nurse: cannot remember, possibly "Amber?")
I am sorry that I cannot remember my care coordinator's name, possibly Amber? She was our coordinator and nurse. Her disposition was similar to our doctor, very clinical. She is not the person I would have selected to work with us. However, other than meeting for protocols, my contact with her was limited to emails through the patient portal. My questions were always handled in a timely manner, within a day. The other nurses were fantastic! Very personable, outgoing, positive, and fun! One of them drew my blood several times and remembered things like where I lived, how far my hours-long drive was, and personal details. I really wished she had been our contact person.
Describe your experience with Poma Fertility.
Location, POSITIVE: I preferred the Kirkland location of POMA Fertility to that of the other, Seattle-based clinic we went to previously. The freeway access was easy from Tri-Cities, Washington and we didn't have to travel into the city, adding at least an hour of traffic time, to our eight-hour round trip.
Price, POSITIVE: We did not have fertility coverage with our insurance policy and paid out-of-pocket, which included our savings, a personal loan, and a home equity loan. Frozen retrieval one: $10,610 cash discount price. Frozen retireval two: roughly $7,000 including cash discount price. Our medication was $5,000 per cycle. Although included in our treatment, we had to have several ultrasounds in our city as we could not travel for each, therefore, we had to pay another clinic for the ultrasounds. Each ultrasound was roughly $175. The price was a major factor in our decision to switch clinics to POMA. The other clinic started at roughly $15k per cycle, not including medications.
In-house lab, POSITIVE: This was the last deciding factor for us in selecting POMA Fertility for IVF, even though, perhaps with our knowledge now, it should have been our first consideration. I cannot express the impact of meeting Mr. Klaus Wiemer, PhD Lab Director. He is warm, supportive, and so knowledgable! He directly oversees the lab, it is NOT left to lab techs. He called us daily with updates! He was present for my transfer and worked in tandum with Dr. Opsahl. I have heard of many other clinics who never met their lab physician. Ours called us daily with updates of our embryos!
Reception, WEAKNESS: This is one area that needs work. The two front desk clerks at the time we were at POMA were gossipy and rude.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Michael Opsahl at Poma Fertility.
First retrieval, frozen transfer: $10,610 (cash discount from $10,875)
Second retireval: $6,275 (cash discount from $6,430)
$305 thaw of first retrieval embryos
$5,000 per cycle (not paid to POMA Fertility)
$2,290 PGS (refunded)
Describe Michael Opsahl's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Poma Fertility.
Due to may age, 42, eSET was not an option. It was highly unlikely that any of my five transferred embryos would take and quite possible that we would need another transfer of any surviving embryos. We agreed to transfer the maximum of untested embryos for my age--five. This is the MAIN REASON we chose to change clinics and proceed at POMA Fertility--our other clinic would not transfer more than two embryos, regardless of the age of the patient or quality of the eggs/embryos.
What specific things went wrong at Poma Fertility?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy