How was your experience with Sherif Awadalla at Institute for Reproductive Health?
Dr. Awadalla has taken extremely good care of me during my treatment at IRH. He has always maintained a positive outlook for our eventual outcomes and is proactive in adjusting treatments based on the results of our previous cycles. His strengths lie in his knowledge and expertise in the fertility practice as well as his bedside manner. At times I did feel like he was trying to protect my feelings a little too much, which I appreciate, but being a person who requires lots of details and direct communication, it did sometimes leave me uncertain or with questions. However, once I was able to gather all of my questions, I was always able to get the answers and clarity I needed. I would most certainly recommend Dr. Awadalla to any patient as I feel like we are getting the best care possible with him and IRH.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Sherif Awadalla at Institute for Reproductive Health?
Make sure to educate yourself and do not be afraid to ask questions, even if you call back after your appointment. They process a lot of patients at IRH but they are really great about taking the necessary time with you if you ask for it.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Sherif Awadalla at Institute for Reproductive Health?
Due to the size of the clinic and volume of patients, there are always going to be aspects where you are a number, such as scheduling, but they've done an excellent job setting up a system and as long as you understand the system, they will meet your expectations. Dr. Awadalla does an excellent job making you feel like a human. He takes his time to talk to you and answers any questions you have in a compassionate and educated manner.
Describe the protocols Sherif Awadalla used in your cycles at Institute for Reproductive Health and their degree of success.
Cycle 1 - Femara, Ovidrel, Timed Intercourse - Negative Pregnancy Test
Cycle 2 - Femara, Ovidrel,Timed Intercourse - Negative Pregnancy Test
Cycle 3 - Femara, Ovidrel,Timed Intercourse - Negative Pregnancy Test
Cycle 4 - Femara, Ovidrel, IUI - Negative Pregnancy Test
Cycle 5 - Femara, Gonal F (Doses of 75iu to 150 iu), Ovidrel,IUI - Miscarriage, D&C, Genetic Testing showed Trisomy 22
Cycle 6 - Femara, Gonal F (Doses of 75iu to 150 iu), Ovidrel,IUI - Negative Prenancy Test
Cycle 7 - Femara, Gonal F (Doses of 75iu to 150 iu), Ovidrel,IUI - Miscarriage, Cytotec
Cycle 8 - Birth Control, Gonal F (Doses of 175iu), Cetrotide 25iu - Terminated Cycle due to poor follicle response
Cycle 9 - CoQ10 & DHEA Supplements, Gonal F (Doses of 225 iu), Menopur 75iu, Cetrotide 25iu, Ovidrel - 6 Follicles, 3 Eggs Retrieved, 3 Eggs Mature, 3 Eggs Fertilized, 2 Embryos made it to Day 5 Blast and tested with PGS, 2 Abnormal Embryos (Trisomy 6, Trisomy 9)
Cycle 10 - CoQ10, DHEA & Vitamin D Supplements, Gonal F (Doses of 250 iu), Menopur 75iu, Cetrotide 25iu, Ovidrel - TBD. Will do PGS Testing again if we have embryos to test.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff at Institute for Reproductive Health.
The vast majority of the nurses are extremely well educated, compassionate, and very good with the patients. They've always taken time to answer my questions and they show tons of empathy in the difficult times.
The head IVF Nurse Penny is absolutely incredible. I don't have enough words for how much she has helped in every aspect of our IVF process form ensuring we weren't billed too much to making sure the schedule works and answering every single question I had (or getting the answer from someone else if she didn't know). Believe me, I had a ton.
There are a couple nurses (I don't know names) who I haven't meshed with all that well. I didn't necessarily take it as a reflection of their abilities, but rather that my communication style didn't mix well with theirs creating some confusion and anxiety on my end. However, overall that hasn't taken away from my experience in any way as there are tons of nurses there and they've always been awesome about referring me to another nurse if I had more questions or was worried about something. Don't be afraid to ask to talk to someone else!
Describe your experience with Institute for Reproductive Health.
Efficiency - They're a big clinic but they've got the process down to a science. Follow the process and you'll get what you need
Compassion - The staff are extraordinarily compassionate. They care about your outcomes as much as you do.
Knowledge/Expertise - IRH knows their stuff and does what they believe is in your best interest medically.
Rotating Doctors: Don't go here and expect to have the same doctor every appointment. It's not possible. However, I will say that I have not had a bad experience with any doctor in the clinic. I feel 100% confident in the care and treatment I have gotten from each doctor there. Dr. Awadalla is my assigned doctor and he is wonderful. I have a particular soft spot for Dr. Burwinkle though as he's had to deal with some tough things with me through my treatment and he's a little more direct than Dr. A, which is good for my style. The other doctors are great too.
Call System: Don't expect to get a live person on the phone when you call. Leave a detailed message with what you need and if you have time restrictions on when you can take their return call let them know. They call you back within 24 hours 99% of the time. Just follow the system.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Sherif Awadalla at Institute for Reproductive Health.
Femara - Covered by insurance
Ultrasound Scans about $300 per scan, covered by insurance
IUI $250 plus cost of sperm washing (covered by husband's insurance)
IUI Medications - Ordered through SMP Pharmacy $500 to $1.5K for Gonal F & Ovidrel
IVF with PGS - $15,900.00 is their discounted rate and does not include medications or the PGS Testing Lab Fees (Ovation)
PGS Testing Lab Fees - about $1,200 for a single cycle with 2 embryos tested, about $2200 for multi-cycle plan for up to 8 embryos tested
IVF Medications - $2-5K for Gonal F, Cetrotide & Menopur per cycle
Describe Sherif Awadalla's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Institute for Reproductive Health.
Dr. Awadalla is very pro-single embryo transfer and anti-multi embryo transfer except in special circumstances.
What specific things went wrong at Institute for Reproductive Health?
- Provided conflicting information
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Institute for Reproductive Health.
Here's my recommendation for anyone going to IRH - Remember that you have ultimate control and decision-making authority when going through your treatment. IRH does a ton of work, but you have to do your part as well. Here are a few examples:
(1) Medications - Follow up to make sure it gets sent to the pharmacy. If it doesn't, call back and make sure it gets sent. My most recent cycle, if I hadn't called to make sure it was sent, I would not have gotten my medication on time.
(2) Treatments - The doctors tell you the treatment they recommend or suggest, but sometimes you have to go with what's best for you. For example, they like IVF better than Injections & IUI because the can control the outcomes better, but if IVF isn't in your budget, don't feel pressured to move to that treatment. After our Femara treatments, Dr. A recommended IVF, but we weren't yet ready to move to that treatment. So, we did a few cycles with Gonal F and IUI before moving to IVF. We eventually did move to IVF with PGS testing because we wanted to reduce the risk of miscarriage after I had 2. Another example would be during my IVF cycle, I didn't respond well to the injections and had a less than ideal follicle count. Dr. A advised us that many couples choose to pass on the PGS testing and do a fresh embryo transfer because of the inherent risk of walking away with nothing with the PGS testing, which is significantly more expensive. I was freaked out and worried for days, but went with my instincts to do the PGS testing anyway because my main goal was not to get pregnant, but to reduce the risk of miscarriage and get pregnant with a viable embryo. I'm glad I followed my instincts because both embryos ended up being abnormal. I know he was just making sure I understood all of my options, but it's important to evaluate what they're telling you against your own treatment objectives and desired outcomes.
(3) Pay Attention - After my cancelled IVF Cycle due to poor response, we were getting ready to begin my 2nd cycle and the nurse pulled out my medication schedule from my first cycle. If I wouldn't have been paying attention, I would not have been taking the correct dose. Another example is from my 2nd IVF Cycle with PGS testing we were doing my pre-retrieval information review and the nurse advised us to have intercourse (big no-no with PGS testing). She was under the assumption that due to my less than ideal response we might do a fresh transfer (something I was adamant about not doing) so she started giving us instructions for that instead of PGS. I caught it but was really freaked out after that and asked to have another nurse review the information with me again. Bottom line, if something doesn't seem right or sound right, speak up and ask for clarification. They do the best they can to get you the best treatment they can, but it's also your responsibility to take charge of your care.