How was your experience with Frank Chang at Shady Grove Fertility?
Dr. Chang is very kind, not super chatty. I had switched to him from another doctor -- they had actually been partners once upon a time and so they knew each other well. My previous doctor, who was more aggressive in treating RPL that had possible immunological causes, told me outright that Dr. Chang would not be in favor of my doing IVIG.
I brought him my labwork from the immunological testing that my other doctor had ordered and he was very honest and said, "I don't know I am looking at." He said that he was willing to let me do blood thinning injections, and I had thought that maybe that would be enough, and since I was not super excited about doing IVIG, I was happy enough to try my first round of IVF, after 13 rounds of IUI with 4 miscarriages, without doing the IVIG.
Unfortunately I did have my fifth miscarriage with a genetically tested embryo.
From that retrieval, I only had one other frozen embryo that did not reveal any results in the genetic testing (perhaps a glitch in the testing, perhaps an indication that it was not a good embryo). As a result, Dr. Chang was more than happy to let me do my second retrieval (I had a package of two retrievals) rather than compel me to use the embryo of uncertain quality.
For this round, he did not discourage me from doing IVIG, and so I was super lucky enough for the embryo to finally stick. My son is now three years old.
I really liked Dr. Chang as a person, and I know that immune issues in pregnancy have split the RE professional community: some doctors believe it but won't treat it, some doctors just don't believe in it, and then there are RE's out there who really look to immune issues when a patient's history of RPL suggests that it might be present. So I think Dr. Chang is an excellent doctor who just happens to not be in the "immune camp."
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Frank Chang at Shady Grove Fertility?
If you have had several miscarriages and want to pursue immune testing and treatment, Dr. Chang is probably not the way to go. Other than that, he is a very thoughtful doctor.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Frank Chang at Shady Grove Fertility?
Dr. Chang is very compassionate but in a low-key way. Of the three doctors I had, he was the only one who would actually phone me -- it kind of blew me away that he'd call personally instead of getting a nurse to call. The only critique I have of him is one that I knew when I switched: he is not really interested in treating people who suspect themselves to have immunological problems with pregnancy. So he was politely dismissive of IVIG, an immune treatment that was recommended by my previous RE (who I sadly had to leave for financial reasons once I switched to IVF).
But other than that, he is compassionate and seemed devastated when he had to tell me he could see no heartbeat for my fifth miscarriage on my first IVF round with him (I did not elect to do IVIG for this transfer).
Describe the protocols Frank Chang used in your cycles at Shady Grove Fertility and their degree of success.
Because I had had four IUI miscarriages at another clinic, Dr. Chang strongly recommended that I use a genetically tested embryo rather than do an IVF transfer without genetic testing. I fully agreed. For my first transfer, I injected with Lovenox (a blood thinner), which was his concession to my suspected immune issues. I was also happy to do that since I was honestly a little freaked out by the thought of IVIG.
After my miscarriage, Dr. Chang was so disappointed with the RPL that he actually requested that the D&C fetal material be genetically tested (again) just to make sure that the original testing was correct (it was). (My OB thought it was a little silly to test it because the chances of the original testing being wrong are very very slim.) Dr. Chang also called the genetic testing company to find out the gender of embryo, as a way to make sure that we had all the right information.
For my second transfer, Dr. Chang saw no reason for me to spend the money on genetic testing again. And so we went for a fresh 5 day transfer. I continued doing the Lovenox injections, and I also informed him that I'd be doing IVIF pre-transfer. He again did not seem to think that the IVIG would help at all, but he did not discourage me.
Happily, I did get pregnant and for the first time my HCG doubled and doubled ... and now I have a three year old.
The credit for my protocol will have to go to Dr. Abbasi of Columbia Fertility Associates, as well as Dr. Victor Priego, a hematologist at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Shady Grove Fertility. (Assigned nurse: Jessica)
Jessica was amazing! Very personable and easy to talk to, very positive. She was totally organized. I was quite surprised because I had expected to have a "dip" when moving to Shady Grove Fertility, which is so large and seemed to have the reputation of a factory. I had the complete opposite experience, personified by Jessica. She was very responsive to email or phone calls, kept track of all my paperwork, and left me the nicest happiest message on my answering machine after my son was born.
Describe your experience with Shady Grove Fertility.
Shady Grove is a very large facility and has so many patients. I totally thought that it would feel like a factory and was quite pleasantly surprised that it was by far the best experience I had had. From the doctor to nurse to the people signing you in at the front desk to the financial people and the monitoring nurses, I never had a bad experience. They were all very polite and kind and did not make you feel rushed. The financial consultants were particularly thorough and kind. I had a different doctor for my transfer, Dr. Doyle, and he didn't know me at all but made me feel like I was his patient. I was floored by the contrast between my expectations and my actual experience.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Frank Chang at Shady Grove Fertility.
I had a package of two retrievals, as many FETs as were needed, freezing and storage for a year. I qualified for a reduction in price due to my income, and I think it was a little over $15,000. I used both retrievals, so it was an extremely good deal. I also qualified for some reduced price medication for my first round of IVF.
Describe Frank Chang's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Shady Grove Fertility.
My nurse Jessica was fabulous, and she said, "Do you want multiples at all?" and I said no. She said, then only transfer one embryo. She said, "It's happened before that someone transfers two, and then one splits ... and they got triplets." I really did not want that to happen!