How was your experience with John Hesla at ORM Fertility?
By the time I had my first consultation visit with Dr. Hesla, I had been through a lot -- 2 1/2 years on the pregnancy journey, four failed IVF cycles, and a miscarriage. I was doing this whole thing as a single woman, I was tired and worn down, and I wasn't sure if I could have any more hope of having a baby. I nervously approached the possibility of using a donor egg with Dr. Hesla. From the very first moment, he gave me a sense of possibility and warmly and positively reviewed my case history. He listened well and used just the right amount of gentle humor to lighten what had become a pretty heavy topic. He was not pushy, and it was clear that he did not have a God complex like some RE's do. He was smart, experienced, respectful, warm, positive, and communicative -- in that very first meeting and in every subsequent interaction I had with him (in person, on phone, or via email) over the next 15 months.
When I decided soon after that visit that I would in fact pursue conception with a donor egg, he got genuinely excited for me. He was extremely involved in selecting, examining, and green-lighting possible egg donors for me, and ultimately, he was the one who found and matched me with my donor. I had already reserved one woman via an agency that the clinic works with closely, but became hesitant when they cycle she did before working with me didn't go that well. I remember Dr. Hesla wrote to me and said he had found someone he thought would be a terrific donor match for me. He said "she's 28, lovely and smart, beautiful like you, and has had great results in a past cycle." It was so kind the way he did it -- and I did end up going with that donor, to great success.
I'll never forget the experience of my transfer for this final and successful cycle. As I lay on the table in the transfer room (like an OR?), classical music played softly and the lights were dimmed so that the environment was as relaxing as possible. Dr. Hesla came in wearing his scrubs, of course, greeted me, and then went to the side of the room where there was a pass-through window to the embryology lab. When the embryologist passed the tube containing the embryo that was to be transferred, Dr. Hesla received it gently in two outstretched hands as if he were being handed the last butterfly on earth -- and he walked back across the room holding it with such care and reverence that you could see it. Two nurses stood near where I lay, and the embryologist came into the room and held my hand for the entire procedure. It sounds ridiculous or over-the-top to say this, but truly, they made a medical procedure feel sacred. This was (and is) the caring the humanity of the team at ORM.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of John Hesla at ORM Fertility?
I live in New York City, and had worked with a local doctor for four unsuccessful cycles before opting to work with a clinic on the West coast, ORM, and Dr. Hesla. The advice I would give a prospective patient who is having trouble conceiving in another part of the country would be: don't wait and only travel to work with Dr. Hesla after you have put yourself through possibly unnecessary pain and hardship. Go to him sooner.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with John Hesla at ORM Fertility?
Dr. Hesla was an extraordinary doctor, not only in terms of his medical knowledge and expertise but also in the deeply kind and respectful way he treated me, listened to and addressed my concerns, and championed my goals.
Describe the protocols John Hesla used in your cycles at ORM Fertility and their degree of success.
Because I was 44 and, despite high doses of "stim" meds had had four unsuccessful IVF cycles, Dr. Hesla concurred early in my first consultation with him that, if I was willing, donor egg would be the right strategy for me. Back then, I used to be able to recite every detail of every protocol for every cycle -- but, blessedly, years later and with a sublime 8-year-old boy who is the light of my life, I can't remember the exact medication protocol. But since it was my egg donor who was getting the stim meds and doing the egg retrieval, my protocol was simply to sync with her cycle and then build my uterine lining.
I do remember that while all IVF cycles involve progesterone injections after transfer, Dr. Hesla was especially aggressive with progesterone and prescribed both the injections and progesterone suppositories for several days (can't remember how long). He said "we've gone to a lot of trouble to get you this far, so I don't take any chances."
Describe your experience with your nurse at ORM Fertility. (Assigned nurse: Julie - care coordinator)
While I was in New York, Julie was my liaison with ORM, via both phone and email. She was incredibly organized, kind, patient, and absolutely my cheerleader. No question was too small for her, and she responded to my needs or requests immediately. She had a lovely sense of humor, and was able to strike a wonderful balance of "business-like" efficiency and friendly communication.
Describe your experience with ORM Fertility.
**Exceptional doctors, embryologists, nurses, and coordinators.
**ORM's stats for live pregnancy way exceed those of clinics on the East coast -- at least they did in 2007/2008. At that time, the best stats by FAR were at ORM, CCRM in Colorado (where Dr. Hesla of ORM trained), and a clinic in San Diego whose name I cannot recall.
**Their labs were modeled after Intel clean rooms -- I think that's the term for it.
**Their attention to detail is extraordinary. Example: Before my transfer, Dr. Hesla did a mock transfer to gently test different tubes and see which flowed the most smoothly through my cervix and would provide the smoothest ride for that little embryo. Who does that? They do.
Describe the costs associated with your care under John Hesla at ORM Fertility.
I don't remember exactly -- it's a blur of high expenses, obviously. I think that they cycle probably cost somewhere around $10,000, but then of course I had additional expenses to the donor agency, the acupuncturist, travel between New York City and Portland, hotel in Portland, etc.
Describe John Hesla's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at ORM Fertility.
Deciding whether to transfer one or two embryos was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my entire life. The reason was, as a single woman, I was terrified of having twins, which would have been more than I could handle or afford. Using my own eggs, which were of lesser quality, I always transferred as many embryos as looked good even to get one possible implantation. But since my ultimate cycle was a donor egg cycle, I knew the embryos were grade A and healthy, so there was far more likelihood of success for each and every one of them. I was scared to transfer 2 and end up with 2, but I was also tremendously scared to do an eSET and end up with 0 -- in this, my absolutely final cycle that I would ever do. Dr. Hesla was extremely understanding and talked this decision through with me fully. He told me ORM's stats for eSETs and told me that while it was fully up to me, the quality of my embryos were good enough that he would endorse either decision. I rolled the dice and went with a eSET -- and was rewarded with a solid implantation and very healthy pregnancy.