Describe your experience with Columbia Fertility Associates.
The doctor was great, but the clinic was pretty bad. The people working at the desk and the finance person were not friendly. They had a lot of problems doing things like printing receipts and having a functioning computer system. Sometimes I couldn't pay for my visit because the system was down. I was annoyed when I began discussing IVF and was referred to the "financial advisor." She just gave me a sheet telling me how much it would all cost and said I had to pay it all up front. That didn't seem like advising. Then I could only pay by credit card, not check. That meant I had to max out two separate credit cards. I would like to have had more options. On the plus side, scheduling was easy, and I almost never had to wait. I really appreciated that since I was there 1-3 times per week for three years!
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
Dr. Sarhan was warm and treated me with respect. She never talked down to me or made me feel bad about my decisions or my diagnosis. She genuinely seemed to care about the success of my treatments. She also took the time to explain everything to me in detail and understood the kind of treatment I desired.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
The nursing staff went through a lot of changes while I was there. The first nurse I had did not seem compassionate or warm at all, but when I miscarried, she was wonderful and sat with me for a long time. When she left, I didn't really get to know anyone else as they were each only there for a few months. Some did a great job drawing blood, while others left huge bruises every time.
How was your experience with Abbaa Sarhan?
Dr. Sarhan seemed very knowledgeable and up-to-date on all the scientific debates relative to the field of infertility. Therefore, I completely trusted her to recommend the right things and to know all the potentials for success and failure. I saw her during every visit that required more than just taking blood, so she got to know me pretty well. We always talked about me during the visits which made me feel that she cared about me as a person, not just as a patient. She also listened to me and reassured me at every step. I think she might have wanted to perform more aggressive treatments, but she knew that I was hesitant, and never pressured me. She never sugar-coated anything, but she handled all bad news with respect and compassion. She handled good news in a way that let me know she actually cared about me as a person. She was clearly skilled in her performance of all medical procedures, so again, I trusted her completely.
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Abbaa Sarhan?
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. If you have any questions at all, just email her or call her office. It can take up to a day or two to receive an answer, but she will answer, and she will not be (or at least seem) annoyed that you asked.
Describe the protocols Abbaa Sarhan used in your cycles and their degree of success.
It has been a couple of years, so I don't remember all the details, but I can say that we started out conservatively, using Letrozole for stimulation. I had had adverse reactions to Clomid with a former provider, so we started with Letrozole. On my third cycle, I had a chemical pregancy. We tried for another 3 cycles and I achieved pregnancy, but I miscarried at about 6 weeks. After that, Dr. Sarhan thought we should become more proactive, so we did a few rounds of IUI, still with Letrozole since that was providing enough eggs. After three rounds of that with no success, she again recommended we become more aggressive. We did the first round of IVF with Bravelle and Menopur. That was a long (12 days maybe) and not very successful cycle. We did a trigger shot and then the retrieval. On that cycle, we only got 7 embryos, and only 2 made it to become day 5 blastocysts. Dr. Sarhan said neither looked great, but she transferred them anyway. The cycle did not result in pregnancy. For the next cycle, she changed the drugs to Follistim and Menopur. This was more of a "textbook" cycle, resulting in 12 embryos, 7 of which made it to day 5. Two were transferred, resulting in my mono-di pregnancy which resulted in 2 live births. The other 5 were frozen.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments.
The monitoring hours were always in the morning, which worked out fine for me. I was lucky because I was a full time student with a flexible schedule. There were sometimes a lot of people in the waiting room, but I almost never waited more than about 15 minutes. There were probably a handful of times over three years where I had to wait more like 45-60 minutes.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Abbaa Sarhan.
My health insurance covered fertility medications and monitoring until I started doing IUI. The IUI procedures cost $1500 each. The IVF procedures cost around $20,000 each plus the cost of medications. I can't remember exactly how much those cost, but it was several thousand more dollars.