How was your experience with Geraldine Ekpo at Laurel Fertility Care?
After moving to San Francisco from Europe I was so new to the US health system and I was scared to trust any fertility doctor. I didn't know where to go but having read good reviews about Doc Ekpo online, we decided to give it a try. We ended up spending 20 months under her care.
During the first visit, I explained my situation, already assessed in Europe (Premature Ovarian Failure) and that our first IVF didn't produce a single embryo to transfer. I told her that many doctors in UK recommended me to go for donor eggs. She carefully listened and set up 2 treatments with my own eggs we could discuss. Unfortunately after a couple of ultrasounds it turned I had a polyp so before doing any ivf we had to remove it. I was operated by Doc Ekpo herself at CPMC some months after. She was excellent in her job (removed 2 polyps), no post operational issues, pains or bleeding, and very sweet looking after me and my worries. Our journey was just started though. We started a treatment and were ready to transfer in mid Sept but she went on maternity leave. The treatment seemed to work better than the one I had in London and I produced 2 eggs of which only one resulted in 1 embryo. Doc Smikle transferred it but it didn't work. After some months, Doc Ekpo was back to work and we tried again the treatment. This time 3 eggs and 2 embryos. We were so happy but during the transfer she realized that there was a "false passage" in my uterus that was sending the catheter the wrong way. So she honestly told me she would make a disservice as a doctor if she used that false passage for the embryos. She asked me to be still more patient as we needed to do another diagnostic test, something similar to a hysterosalpinogram (don't remember) and with that Doc Ekpo managed to assess carefully my situation for the next transfer. We transferred 2 frozen embryos in late January 2019, but again it didn't work.
I started to feel very sad and hopeless at that time (4 failed ivf in total since 2017). We had a very honest chat where she told me that my case was a bit of a lottery, and that we knew we were doing the right treatment but my number will always be quite low doing to my amh at 0.4 (I'm 36). Being the numbers low, we were never able to reach the blasto stage at the lab because it was safer to transfer the embryos after 1-2 days. So we were never able to test the quality of the embryos. She started mentioning donor eggs, we also have discussed it when we first met, and went a lot into detail, explaining us how it works, the chances, the procedures. I took 5 months break from IVF to enjoy life and think about donor egg. We then made up our mind and tried it. We bought 8 eggs of which, 6 thawed well and 4 fertilized. 2 were transferred and one is still inside me, after 21 weeks :). Still I had to face the scare of a subchorionic haematoma during week 6 and 7, while we were still under Doc Ekpo's care. I had two very scary episodes of bleeding. We were supposed to travel overseas around that time and she strongly recommended not doing it. We listened to her advice and continued being visited every week (!) by Doc Ekpo until the haematoma luckily resolved and she happily told us: "my job is now done, I wish you all the best"!
I can't be more thankful to have met her, not only because we managed to get pregnant but because she was always a professional and kind human being, really caring about our case through all the 18 months we spent under her care. After some months of being with her, mostly after the polyps operation, I really started to trust her advice and recommendations, they were genuine and professional.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Geraldine Ekpo at Laurel Fertility Care?
As every doctor, she may seem quite cold at the beginning, but she actually is a professional and wants to listen carefully to assess your case. She's been very good managing my situation and after the first 2/3 appointments she started showing her genuine care and empathy.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Geraldine Ekpo at Laurel Fertility Care?
We spent 20 months under her care. She gain our trust pretty quickly showing genuine attention to our case and compassion to our feelings. At my first visits I was very scared to end up being a number but the more we went through my situation together (premature ovarian failure) the more I felt Doc Ekpo was doing the best to help us to conceive. No matter the outcome (I'm 21 weeks pregnant with donor egg), I would recommend Doc Ekpo to my best friend.
Describe the protocols Geraldine Ekpo used in your cycles at Laurel Fertility Care and their degree of success.
I have explained it some paragraphs before!
Describe your experience with your nurse at Laurel Fertility Care. (Assigned nurse: Donna Damo)
Donna and Marleni have been excellent!
Donna has been veeery patient with me ( so many emails exchanged in 20 months) and always very clear with instructions, professional and attentive. A nurse you can really trust!!
Marleni was doing my bloods always with a smile, trying to cheer me up, she has a big big heart.
Describe your experience with Laurel Fertility Care.
Please take in mind I last visited Laurel Fertility in September 2019 and some things may have improved by now!
The facility is quite small, there's not much privacy at reception. I've got the feeling there's a frequent people turnover in their admin offices as many times (in 20 months) I had to speak to many different people for billing or reception as the previous ones were not working there anymore. The clinic use an ivf online portal that is pretty obsolete. It's not user friendly and should be definitely improved (both desktop and the mobile app).
I hardly had to wait too long to be visited, only a couple of times due to last minute emergencies with other patients.
Despite the clinic is quite small, doctors, nurses and biologists seemed all professional. The admin department can definitely improve.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Geraldine Ekpo at Laurel Fertility Care.
I was lucky to be under Progyny fertility insurance so they were the ones dealing with it.
Describe Geraldine Ekpo's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Laurel Fertility Care.
Due to the poor numbers (with amh 0.4) we've never been able to reach the blastocyst stage, so we had to put the embryos back soon after the retrieval. She has always recommended a 2 embryo transfer.
What specific things went wrong at Laurel Fertility Care?
- Failed to call with results
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Laurel Fertility Care.
When I was briefly under Doc Smikle care (Doc Ekpo was in maternity leave) he failed to call me back with the hcg test results 2 weeks after the transfer (bloods were done at 8am that day). I waited all day impatiently until I called myself at 5pm claiming to know the result. I guess it can happen, he was probably very busy without Doc Ekpo around but as an ivf patient, that's the worst wait ever...!