How was your experience with Zaher Merhi at New Hope Fertility Center?
We initially began the IVF journey at the New Hope clinic with another doctor. However, my OBGYN doctor had recommended Dr. Merhi, and I had felt put off by some of the communication with the other doctor, so we decided to switch to Dr. Merhi. I am so grateful that we did. Along our journey, there were definitely unexpected twists and turns -- a smaller number of eggs than expected reacting to the stimulation medication, a need for me to have a hysteroscopy done, uterine lining not thickening up to the desired level by the scheduled date. While we had direct consultations with Dr. Merhi at only some of these junctures, with every one of these "setbacks", Dr. Merhi implemented some kind of solution-oriented strategy to try to obtain a better outcome. Sometimes this meant just continuing medication and waiting a few days for the situation to change, and in other times it was really about building the best possible conditions for a successful transfer. I knew that he was personally checking my charts after every monitoring session I had, so I felt personally cared for.
I am a firm believer in doing my own research and making sure that as a patient, I always advocate for myself. I also knew that I could express my worries or doubts to Dr. Merhi and his responses were always honest, but comforting. Is the IVF science perfected for pregnancy to be guaranteed each time? Of course not. But having a doctor who is truly your cheerleader and doing their best to strategize the best scientific road to success is crucial.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Zaher Merhi at New Hope Fertility Center?
Dr. Merhi is busy, busy, busy. There is always a line out the door of patients out the door to see him. If you choose to be treated by Dr. Merhi, I would suggest:
- Communicate! Be open about what are your concerns are with your cycle.
- Do your own research and always advocate for yourself! Prepare your own questions so you can best make use of the time at the in-person consultations.
- Don't be discouraged if you can't always see him in person. We would occasionally see other doctors for consultations just for questions or concerns, if we couldn't see him.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Zaher Merhi at New Hope Fertility Center?
Speaking directly with Dr. Merhi always felt very personal -- he is honest, but also has excellent bedside manners, which I believe is super important during the entire stressful IVF process (especially since I found myself very sensitive every step of the way!). Dr. Merhi is one of the most in-demand doctors at the clinic, which means you'll always have to wait a while to consult with him and he doesn't have a lot of time. However, my husband and I ALWAYS felt that we were respected and treated well by Dr. Merhi. It always felt worth the wait just to be reassured by him, and to really feel that he was (is) genuinely determined to help us obtain success in our IVF journey.
Describe the protocols Zaher Merhi used in your cycles at New Hope Fertility Center and their degree of success.
During the retrieval cycles, we used birth control pills, letrozole and Clomid pills, as well as Gonal-F and Cetrotide injections. My second cycle (which was when we had switched to Dr. Merhi) produced better results than the first cycle (with another doctor). I actually asked to be placed on a higher medication dose because I felt that the dosage in the first cycle wasn't stimulating enough follicles -- Dr. Merhi prescribed a higher dose of the Gonal-F and added in some of the other pills, and we were able to retrieve more eggs and create more embryos the second time around.
Regarding transfer, I had one failed FET and one successful FET. Leading up to the first FET, I was taking Prometrium (progesterone). After the first failure, Dr. Merhi expanded the medication protocol to include Progesterone in oil injections, a small dosage of Prednisone and baby aspirin. I believe that these medications helped my body to be more prepared to successfully accept the second FET.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
You'll see the nurses for your regular monitoring -- drawing blood and sonograms. The nurses are often rotating so on occasion I would see a few nurses that I recognized and had grown friendly with. Some nurses are not as friendly -- some are colder and just trying to "get it done". However, this made me appreciate more the few nurses/sonographers who were just more sensitive to my situation, taking care to look carefully at the results, and to answer my questions. One definitely develops preferences for some of the nurses over others. I am extremely grateful to one sonographer who managed to carefully inspect my results and discovered that I would need to have a hysteroscopy to remove a growth before the FET.
Describe your experience with New Hope Fertility Center.
- More friendly pricing (we found it cheaper than other clinics)
- Flexible monitoring windows that can accommodate different schedules
- Convenient location at Columbus Circle, emailing instructions (instead of calling -- really awkward to take those calls in public!).
- You won't see your doctor each time you come in to monitor (unless you wait after monitoring) as you are monitored by the nurses
- No one explains what to expect for normal procedures prior to that day (ie I wanted to know exactly what to expect on egg retrieval day or transfer day) so if you're interested in knowing beforehand, make sure you schedule a consultation to ask a staff member directly what to expect.
- Sometimes we would be waiting for a consultation with the doctor, and the doctor's nurse support staff (not the monitoring nurses) would try to field our questions instead of letting us see the doctor directly... when this happened, we often felt really dissatisfied with the nurses' answers -- and often they were not consistent with the doctor's answers! Again, my advice is to always advocate for yourself, and insist on seeing the doctor even if the nurses are trying to get you out the door. If you advocate for yourself, then I believe you will have a good experience.
The clinic is, as are many of the doctors, busy busy busy. You can be a human, or you can be just a number. I think that part of it really depends on how you advocate for yourself.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at New Hope Fertility Center.
It's a pretty efficient monitoring system. Most of the time I was able to be in and out (bloodwork and sonogram) within 20-40 minutes.
Once in a while, the wait was so long and I had to check in with the front desk again to make sure they didn't forget about me. Make sure to not be afraid to check in again if you feel that you've been waiting longer than 30 minutes for bloodwork.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Zaher Merhi at New Hope Fertility Center.
We paid out of pocket for costs as our insurance would not cover any of it. Costs, with medication, ran around $10,000 - $12,000 per retrieval cycle. The FET is around $3000.
It helped to get medication for a pharmacy recommended to me by a friend (Medcal Pharmacy), which had a special discount with patients from New Hope and also delivered the medications straight to my door, free of charge.
Describe Zaher Merhi's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at New Hope Fertility Center.
I was told that it was safer for a woman at my age to transfer one embryo. Personally, my husband and I weren't interested in transferring more than that at one time, so we were already on board with Dr. Merhi's approach to eSET.
What specific things went wrong at New Hope Fertility Center?
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to call with results
- Provided conflicting information
Describe the specific things that went wrong at New Hope Fertility Center.
I almost always received my "instructions" after the monitoring sessions. However, there was one occasion in which I didn't receive any instructions because they essentially forgot to email me that day. This caused me to delay taking certain medications, which I should have started taking the night they forgot to email me. I had to initiate asking the clinic why I didn't receive any information, in order for them to finally provide me with them.
At another point, the nurses gave me different instructions for continuing / stopping medications than what the doctor told me. (Obviously I went in to speak directly to the doctor to clarify the situation and clearly took the doctor's advice over the nurses'.)