I have received numerous emails asking for details of how we chose the Czech Republic and about our experience with the Clinic. I’ve been hesitant to give my feedback prior to understanding our outcome. That’s not because it changes my feedback but I didn’t want to focus on those issues in the early part of a pregnancy – I just wanted to remain positive and stress-free. I thought it was important for me to be in a peaceful frame of mind and sharing my experience would definitely have moved me to a different place.
We used IVFVacation (owned and operated by Craig and Marcella Fite) and The Clinic of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology in Zlin. In order to book with this clinic, unfortunately, you have to go through IVFVacation as they do not allow US patients to book directly. We researched many different countries and clinics and ultimately chose this one for the following: (1) the donor would have similar physical features (2) the medical practices in general in Czech Republic were much more advanced than some of the other countries we considered (3) cost (4) first-hand feedback from others that had used this clinic.
Rather than going into our full experience in this post since it would take way too much room I will be happy to send via e-mail - just shoot me an e-mail if you want the full story. There were a lot of things that happened that have caused us great concern.
The positives - (1) The clinic is just as clean as any clinic in the US (2) There are two nurses that speak English quite well which is not always the case at clinics abroad (3) Dr. Anna's English is very good, as well. He was able to clearly discuss issues and the treatment with us (4) I really loved the resting period allowed for most patients post-transfer. Rather than 10 minutes of rest I've gotten in the US they have you rest for a minimum of an hour with your legs elevated - this didn't happen for us but I believe I was the exception (5) Communication and service prior to our trip by Marcella was fantastic (6) Marcella called to check on us when we got to Zlin and did a great job of making sure we felt comfortable in Zlin.
I believe that when Craig and Marcella started IVFVacation things ran very smoothly. Their business has increased significantly and I don't think they have been able to manage this growth. The clinic is severely understaffed and IVFVacation seems to be in a little over their head. Schedules were communicated incorrectly, medication instructions were given incorrectly and worst of all - the treatment was 'One Size Fits All' for both donor and patient - which simply does not work effectively with infertility treatment.
We froze the boys while we were there but going back will be a very difficult call. I don't think that we will go back until we see things have changed with IVFVacation and with the clinic to ensure the mistakes that were made with us are not made again. Further, I would need to know that our treatment and schedule is dictated by our Donor's progress not the doctor's appointment book.
Here are my major concerns:
1) Treatment schedules should be dictated by the donor – not the doctor’s schedule. It is very clear that Dr. Anna is simply far too busy to handle the volume of patients they have right now. I truly believe the extra day of stim pushed my donor too far and in turn gave us poor quality eggs. It is absolutely critical in IVF that the eggs be retrieved at the ideal time. There were 6 of us there at the same time on the exact same schedule. All 6 of our donors needed an extra day of stim, all of our retrievals were on the same day and all of our transfers were on the same day. Almost all of us even had the same results - 2 grade 1 and 1 grade 2. We knew my donor had 10 follicles one full week out. that she would have needed an extra day of stim made no sense. Of course - we were all charged $500 for the extra day of stim, as well.
2) Medication and instructions should only be given by medical professionals at the clinic. There should have been a written treatment plan to avoid any confusion.
3) It is illegal to give medical advice and manage or dispense prescriptions in the US if you are not a medical professional. All medication instructions and medical questions should be answered by an English-speaking nurse with the clinic. This type of information should not be mediated - things can get lost in translation. It is so important to think of IVFVacation as more of a Travel Coordinator - they are definitely not IVF experts, counselors or medical professionals. This is how we used IVFVacation but I've seen many women with different expectations.
(4) Medical Records should be sent directly to the clinic - not to someone in the US that is not bound by Healthcare Information Privacy Laws.
I really hope that Craig and Marcella and The Clinic can address these issues. The service the Clinic provides opens up a door to so many women that can no longer pursue the treatments in the US. - and that is very important. However, I can not refer anyone or have confidence in this service or the Clinic until these things are addressed. I would love to go back to Zlin for treatment and I hope to see many other women from the US go to Zlin for successful treatment but for sustained success growth must be managed wisely.