How was your experience with Deidre Downs Gunn at University of Alabama Birmingham?
I went to Dr. Gunn to get my eggs/embryos frozen due to medical condition that requires me to be on chemotherapeutic medication. I never once got to see Dr. Gunn nor did she respond to my MULTIPLE messages in which I had concerns and questions. I saw her medical student/resident, Dr. Chang once during an ultrasound over a weekend in which she told me she was only there to fill in. At no point was I ever told Dr. Chang was overtaking my entire case. While she was very kind and responded to all of my messages, I thought it was strange I could never reach my "actual" doctor, Dr. Gunn. During one of my ultrasounds, it was so painful I burst into tears as the Tech struggled to FORCE the probe in. I emailed Dr. Gunn and notified her I left the office crying and was still in such pain a day later and felt swollen. The nurse responded to let me know that at least it'll be over soon as my retrieval was coming up and she would also let one of the doctor's know. Needless to say Dr. Gunn NEVER reached out or addressed the situation. To make a very long story short I had a failed retrieval. I was able to create one 4BC embryo but that was all out of 8 mature eggs. I had questions regarding this (as any normal person would) and I also was confused as to why it may have happened given my AMH was greater than 2.0 (I think it was 2.8) and all of my other labs were normal as well. I had no prior history of infertility and this was just very unusual. The medical student, Dr. Chang initially told me that she too thought it was odd and it seemed like my ovaries did not respond to the medications initially. She was the one who called me with the devastating news on day 2 (after I paged to get some sort of update since I hadn't heard from anyone). I would have thought Dr. Gunn would have made such a call or at least checked in on me. On day 6 a regular nurse called and left me a voicemail later that evening since I missed the call. I had to call back Monday to get the dang final results myself which was absolutely ridiculous. Dr. Gunn was on-call that weekend and just she still did not reach out or at least give me the final day 6 results. I had to wait until day 9 to find out only one had made it. I arranged a meeting with a Patient Advocate to get answers (about 3 weeks after my retrieval!) I met with Dr. Gunn and Dr. Chang and Dr. Chang seemed to be the one instructed to answer the questions. I started to get the feel Dr. Gunn DID NOT do my retrieval and in fact, Dr. Chang had done everything herself and perhaps I was her first "real case". It all made sense why I was in more contact with Dr. Chang and why during the surgery, it was Dr. Chang adjusting the bed and getting me in the right position before they promptly put me to sleep (Dr. Gunn was nowhere to be found in the room before I was put to sleep). I was unaware and nor was it ever disclosed to me that a medical student/resident would be performing my procedure. I am not saying she did anything wrong, however, my consent was NOT given nor even asked. Anyway in the meeting I was told that I just simply had "poor egg quality" with no further explanation. Dr. Gunn said if I did it again she wouldn't change a single thing and would expect the exact same results (well duh, if you don't change anything what else would you expect)? I told her I appreciated her taking the time to finally meet with me and I was very disappointed with the lack of communication. She vowed to do better and was "sorry I felt that way" (you know one of those fake apologizes where you blame the other person for their own feelings). I decided I would proceed with another cycle since she did seem like she would try harder to communicate. Six days after our meeting, I was contacted by a Nurse Director saying that they had met and Dr. Gunn had decided she is "unable to meet my expectations" and am discontinuing me as a patient. And that they would make all arrangements to find me a new clinic. I was just baffled and asked when did this take place and why would having open communication as my expectation be something she's unable to meet? I asked is that unreasonable to expect your own Doctor to respond to messages and communicate?? She said it was not unreasonable. So I asked then how is it that Dr. Gunn has come to the conclusion that she's unable to meet that expectation?? I could not believe what I was hearing or what was going on. That was in July 2019 and as of now Jan. 2020 I have had no contact or further explanation. Two months after that phone call I received a certified letter from Dr. Gunn that was informing me that she was discontinuing me and could see me up until August 20th for emergencies only. This letter was sent and delivered in SEPTEMBER!! It was intentionally held. My other doctors are shocked and cannot understand why she would treat me this way all because I asked normal questions regarding my retrieval.
I was never assisted in finding a new clinic and had to do all the leg work myself. I found a FANTASTIC clinic that has worked miracles with me. My new doctor at Brookwood has been absolutely amazing and the compassion she has shown me is just unspeakable. UAB's Dr. Gunn slapped in my medical record "female infertility". However, my new Dr. Houserman took the time to discuss a different plan, medication dosages etc to get to the bottom of the mystery. She said she would not label me with "poor egg quality" after one single retrieval since I was able to create one embryo at UAB and there are multiple factors that could have caused my results. In the end, I now have 5 (FIVE!!) GOOD QUALITY embryos (4BBs and 5ABs) at Brookwood after changing the donor I'd used. We still aren't exactly sure what happened but changing the donor and trigger shot (we used Lupron) resulted in these 5 embryos. It also could have been my chemotherapeutic medication still in my system longer than anticipated since I had been on it for over 20yrs.
I am still scarred from my experience at UAB and still even cry when I think about how I was treated and so abruptly dismissed out of the clinic for simply asking questions. I am so blessed to have been directed to Dr. Houserman and her team. Dr. Houserman HERSELF called me twice following my retrieval. She never gave up and did not label me something without trying all alternative. She is indeed such a wonderful, kind, understanding person to work with and I am forever grateful. I don't know what will come of my embryos once I am ready to use them but I am thankful that I have them.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Deidre Downs Gunn at University of Alabama Birmingham?
Do not expect to EVER hear from her. If you send a direct message to Dr. Gunn do not ever expect a response. EVER. If anything a nurse will respond without fully answering your specific question. If she isn't sure why something didn't work according to plan, then it's YOUR FAULT. She will under not circumstances dig further and see what happened. If you ask questions, be prepared to be sent packing. I was kicked out of her clinic because I asked follow up questions about my procedure after it had failed unexpectedly.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Deidre Downs Gunn at University of Alabama Birmingham?
I NEVER saw Dr. Gunn. I saw her for a consultation 8 months prior to proceeding with treatment and when I requested to see her again the nurses initially told me that they could answer whatever questions I have. I told them surely I can't be expected to start a procedure without a clear understanding and detailed plan having seen the doctor only once nearly a year prior. I had special circumstances (undergoing chemotherapeutic medication) that needed priority care yet I was just treated like cattle.
Describe the protocols Deidre Downs Gunn used in your cycles at University of Alabama Birmingham and their degree of success.
Dr. Gunn seemed to use the exact same dosage of medication for all patients. Once drug fits all method. There was no separate evaluation or anything that indicated otherwise. After my failed retrieval, she said that she wouldn't change a single thing and just said I have poor egg quality and called it a day.
Describe your experience with your nurse at University of Alabama Birmingham. (Assigned nurse: Tabitha Marie Vigee)
The IVF nurse, Tabitha was usually very good at responded to messages. In fact, that's all she would respond to. If you tired to call, you would never get through. She was the ONLY nurse that I was aware of. I never saw a single other nurse the entire time. The clinic was severely understaffed and overworked. If I emailed Dr. Gunn directly, Tabitha responded. If I emailed Tabitha a concern that I wanted passed on to Dr. Gunn, she would answer the parts she could and then ignore the rest of my question or concern and it would never be answered. Seemed very impatient at times and very insensitive.
Describe your experience with University of Alabama Birmingham.
The clinic is very clean. However, if you want to actually be a part of your own plan and on the same page as the doctor, don't kid yourself. Go to another clinic. Do NOT expect any explanations on how things may have turned out the way they did or what perhaps the doctor might do differently next time. With my failed procedure bet your bottom dollar they kept every single PENNY that I paid and promptly kicked me out for asking questions.
Now if you want to just get things over with and call it a day and never hear from them again, this is the place for you!
Describe the costs associated with your care under Deidre Downs Gunn at University of Alabama Birmingham.
I qualified for Live Strong, a cancer foundation that covers the cost of medication for patients that have undergone chemotherapy. So my costs where cut down significantly. Any patient that qualifies has a set rate that they pay for their procedure determined by that clinic. I think my payment was $6000. However, they clinic was not shy (as well as the IVF nurse) about mentioning how they don't get any additional payments and seemed a bit bitter about it. I was told I must pay in full upfront or they would not proceed. I have heard other patients were offered payment plans and "worked with" however that was NOT my experience.
Describe Deidre Downs Gunn's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at University of Alabama Birmingham.
She is strictly a single embryo transfer no matter what. Regardless of your history or the "quality" of the embryo. She will not transfer more than one under no circumstances.
What specific things went wrong at University of Alabama Birmingham?
- Failed to call with results
- Failed to send your chart to another clinic
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information