How was your experience with Ilan Tur-Kaspa at Institute for Human Reproduction?
The doctor certainly seemed very informed and on the ball. But as I look back on my notes, I feel a little misled about his live birth rate success. He convinced me if we did PGS testing that I would have a 60-70% chance of getting pregnant because I'm under 35. His SART data, though, does not show that high of a percentage at all. At one point he told me I should be pregnant by now. He doesn't know why I'm not. It's either really bad luck or a uterine issue and we don't have enough data yet. But then month after month he'd basically pump me up with estrogen and put me through hell with no change and no success. He traveled frequently without giving me a heads up, and at one point I had to ask to be put on an extra week of estrogen just to coordinate with his travel plans so he could do my transfer (which was cancelled anyway). Your body is expected to work around his schedule, and I wish I had known how big of a deal that would be when I chose the clinic. He can be incredibly compassionate and funny. I really liked him personally, but at the end I wasn't pregnant and I felt like he wasn't taking responsibility. He is also very aware of issues within his nursing staff, and he doesn't take active steps to make it better. When I started with him in 2016 we discussed his poor Yelp reviews, mostly based on the staff. He said the problems had been taken care of. Let me tell you -- they weren't.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Ilan Tur-Kaspa at Institute for Human Reproduction?
Go somewhere else!
But if you stay, take detailed notes and always confirm in writing, via email, what he told you. If you don't understand something because of his accent, ask until you do. If you feel like you are starting to dictate your treatment because he isn't coming up with a plan of action -- run. Do not rely on the nurses to give you correct information abut protocol or meds. Be your own advocate. You can't trust them to get it right.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Ilan Tur-Kaspa at Institute for Human Reproduction?
The doctor's behavior varied between incredibly passionate and completely detached. At times, I felt like we were on the same team, reaching for the same goal. But many other times I felt like he did not fully comprehend everything i was enduring as a patient. This was particularly difficult because he cancelled FETs for me time and time again because my lining failed to increase enough (and because he only does transfers on Thursdays, so forget about what your body wants). There was a disconnect between my experience and what he thought my experience was -- and this was despite me repeatedly telling him I was unhappy and felt unsupported. While he sometimes would call me personally, the last time I was cancelled the nurse called. It was devastating, and he didn't even bother to take the time to call me.
Describe the protocols Ilan Tur-Kaspa used in your cycles at Institute for Human Reproduction and their degree of success.
He triggered me with Lupron and we had 7 frozen, tested embryos. I thought I'd never have to do IVF again. I was wrong. One implanted, but was a pregnancy of unknown origin and they had to give me two doses of methotrexate to get "unpregnant." Each month my lining wouldn't get above a 8, so he would cancel my frozen transfer. I got to transfer one more, but it didn't stick. To get my lining to thicken, he pumped me full of ungodly amounts of estrogen (my serum levels were 2200+). I suggested patches, so we tried those. They didn't work either. I often got to a 7, but not when I needed to be for the purpose of his Thursday-only transfer schedule. I was told my embryos were perfect, but after the 2nd didn't stick I consulted with other clinics. I'm not sure how good IHR's outsourced lab is. And there are studies that triggering with Lupron makes eggs that are not high quality. He only used vaginal progesterone. Everyone else I know uses PIO injections, or both. So he finally relented and said I too could do PIO. But we never got that far.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Institute for Human Reproduction. (Assigned nurse: Sue, Melissa, Nicole, Maria, Wendy)
I had four coordinators in the period of a single year. By the end, I couldn't even pick my nurse out of a crowd. I never saw her. I didn't feel like any of them cared about me, except for the first (Sue) who left the practice. There is crazy turnover at this clinic and the nurses that get left behind evidently have a huge workload. I am at a new clinic now and the experience is night and day better. These nurses at IHR make a frustrating and heartbreaking fertility journey that much worse. They always got my meds wrong. Sometimes they got my protocol wrong. I had to find the errors and then follow up. And forget about getting someone on the phone. If you don't answer when they call, you'll never get to talk to them again.
Describe your experience with Institute for Human Reproduction.
I chose this clinic because it was a nice size -- not as big as FCI and at the time the success rates were similar to Northwestern and FCI. But in retrospect, it's not worth it. I'd rather go to a huge clinic that was efficient. The only upside is that the morning waits were really quick and the U/S technicians and the women who drew blood -- were amazing. They were the only ones I felt who cared about me and knew my name.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Institute for Human Reproduction.
They were the least offensive thing about this place.
Describe Ilan Tur-Kaspa's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Institute for Human Reproduction.
Here is where we saw eye to eye. He refused to put in two quality embryos and fully explained all the risks of twins.
What specific things went wrong at Institute for Human Reproduction?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to call with results
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Institute for Human Reproduction.
The night before I was to start stims, I realized they never ordered needles for me. I had never done this before and didn't know to inventory everything. It was 10pm on a Saturday night and I was troubleshooting with the mail-in pharmacist, a 24-hours Walgreens -- and my clinic nurse was nowhere to be found. They often called in Rx that were confusing or written out so they couldn't be filled properly. When I switched to estrogen patches it was a nightmare because the doctor would increase me to 4 patches but I only had a Rx for 2, etc. During my first FET protocol I was told to take the wrong number of estradiol pills. It didn't negatively impact my cycle, but perhaps my lining would have been thicker -- we will never know. It was infuriating to have nurses who didn't fully "get it."