How was your experience with Susan Willman at Reproductive Science Center?
For straightforward cases, I expect Dr. Willman could be great. But in my experience, as soon as anything deviated from the norm, it all started to fall apart. She's well-respected in the Bay Area and that's got to be for a reason, but I now doubt her medical opinion based on feedback from two other REs on her protocol. For example, she told me that blastocycsts from a rescue ICSI are no less likely to be viable than from regular ICSI or just IVF. She also told me that breastfeeding would have no effect on my IVF cycle. I have spoken to other doctors who feel the opposite on both those counts. She also tends to get defensive when challenged on some of the calls she's made, which while understandable, doesn't sit right with me. Despite some major setbacks, I did get pregnant and gave birth to my kid, though trying for #2 with this doctor was a complete failure.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Susan Willman at Reproductive Science Center?
Trust your gut.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Susan Willman at Reproductive Science Center?
For the most part, I liked Dr. Willman's "bedside manner." She was matter of fact without being cold, and went into the medical details in a way that I appreciated. In terms of her treatment plans, however, I do feel that she relies on numbers and statistics with less outside-the-box intuitive thinking, which means her treatment plans are somewhat less tailored to each individual. In my case she weighed lab results more than my medical history, so prescribed a medication protocol that looked good "on paper" but didn't take into account that I had tried something similar in the past with a poor outcome.
Describe the protocols Susan Willman used in your cycles at Reproductive Science Center and their degree of success.
My first IVF cycle was an antagonist protocol and canceled for a lead follicle. My 2nd cycle was a Lupron microdose flare protocol and ultimately did lead to a pregnancy and live birth. However, we were advised to use ICSI, agreed and paid for it, and then it was not done. We had an almost total fertilization failure--out of 15 eggs only 2 fertilized. Dr. Willman said that since the sperm had looked good, she decided against ICSI. We were livid and upset. The lab did "rescue ICSI" at this point, which ultimately led to 1 frozen blastocyst. I have heard since that rescue ICSI almost never works and that the blasts that result from it are almost always nonviable. Indeed, the FET cycle we did with that blast was a failure. For our last cycle, in an attempt to conceive a 2nd child, Dr. Willman prescribed another antagonist cycle despite the fact that in the past that had led to a canceled cycle for me. It was coupled with estrogen priming, FSH and Menopur. She also prescribed human growth hormone, but not beginning till stim day 5. In speaking with other doctors, the HGH should be started far earlier in the cycle. I had poor response to the drugs and my estrogen never reached above 900, even with 12 follicles. My estrogen dipped on the day of trigger. I asked Dr. Willman if we should cancel the cycle and she recommended going ahead to retrieval because this might be as good as I would be able to get. They got 7 mature eggs. Four fertilized, and only 1 made it to day 3. On day 6 it was deemed poor quality and not frozen or transferred. I really wish we had canceled the cycle. Now she recommends donor eggs.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Reproductive Science Center. (Assigned nurse: Valeri Weber)
I had no complaints about the nursing staff or case manager. I felt well-taken care of.
Describe your experience with Reproductive Science Center.
I think RSC is a great choice if you are in the Bay Area. Look at their SART success rates. Definitely read up on which doctor you pick, because there are many and they all have their own styles. The financial department is very unhelpful. If you have insurance coverage for infertility, it is very difficult to understand how much you will actually pay out of pocket until they are asking for a payment. Next to the anguish of a failed cycle, the confusion and frustration I felt when dealing with the financial department was the worst part of going through IVF.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Susan Willman at Reproductive Science Center.
It's far too much effort for me to try to quantify this unfortunately, between insurance coverage, canceled cycles, etc. It's all a blur. As I said previously, the financial and billing aspect of this process was a nightmare and it is here that the clinic has its biggest weakness.
Describe Susan Willman's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Reproductive Science Center.
Dr. Willman is a strong believer in the advantages of a healthy singleton pregnancy, and would likely recommend an eSET if the patient were on the younger side, or at any age if the embryos were normal as determined by genetic testing.
What specific things went wrong at Reproductive Science Center?
- Provided conflicting information
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Reproductive Science Center.
When our FET cycle failed, the doctor that called with the results (not our normal doctor) told us that since it was an embryo from a "rescue ICSI" procedure, that was likely why the cycle failed, because rescue ICSI embryos have a very low chance of success. I wondered why my doctor had never told me this, why we paid thousands of dollars to have that embryo frozen, stored, thawed and transferred. Her answer was that it was not her understanding and the other doctor was mistaken--actually she said that the other doctor never said that. So either the other doctor lied to her or they were trying to make me think it never happened. I guess that's referred to as gaslighting. Anyway, something fishy went on there.