Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're considering doing IVM at a clinic in Oxford!

Ok people. I'm super excited about this. In fact, I don't think I've been this excited in quite a long time. After getting some financials from the IVM clinic in Chicago (IVF1, w/ Dr. Morris), it revealed that doing IVM really wouldn't be more cost effective compared to doing IVF with SHER. In fact, per single cycle it was a bit more expensive simply because they don't have a true multi-cycle "discounted" package like SHER does. Instead, they said they offer a $2,000 discount for each additional IVM cycle. Even that isn't enough to make it worth my wild.

To also stay relevant, I should say that we recently (like as of this past weekend) decided to not try and sell our home. After many, many, MANY exhausting hours of considering the advantages and disadvantages with selling/buying or refinancing, we've decided that refinancing will probably be the most predictable solution. Given the awful housing market we really don't know what we could expect from selling and would probably get a very low price for our home as a result. We decided that if we want to sell in 5 years (or so), hopefully it will be worth the wait. So, long story short, while it felt good to have an decision made, it made me a little sad. In making our decision, we also came to the conclusion that it also probably made sense to wait a little longer to pursue IVF. The longer we wait, the more we can save each month so that we have more of a reserve to fall back on once we do have our baby.

We were still in the middle of coming up with that time frame when I heard back from the IVM clinic in Oxford, UK, known as the Oxford Fertility Unit, a non-profit clinic (how cool is that!). As a long shot, I e-mailed them almost a week ago to see if they thought I would be a good candidate for IVM, since I only have one ovary that is probably partially blocked due to scar tissue and it being adhered to my uterus. The main reason for e-mailing them was the fact that their website listed the prices for their services - prices that are more than half of what they cost here in the U.S. Even with travel factored in, it would still be about 40% less than an IVM or IVF cycle here in the U.S. I was a bit sceptical as to if the prices were even accurate. So, with those things in mind, I sent my e-mail off.

And today, I received this response -

Mr Child's reply to your email is: If both ovaries are accessible vaginally and of polycystic appearance then IVM should be possible. We do treat patients from abroad and the costs are correct."

I don't want to get too excited. I still need to confirm that my only having one ovary wouldn't disqualify me. However, I wanted to outline the costs a little more precisely to make sure I wasn't looking at something incorrect. The price difference just seems too good to be true. For approx. $10,000 we could undergo a single IVM cycle - that includes pretreatment testing, retrieval, ICSI, transfer, drugs and travel costs (flight, hotel, food and an misc expense allowance)!! That is compared to $16,000-$18,000 per IVM/IVF cycle here in the U.S.

Months ago when my husband mentioned the idea of doing a "vacation infertility treatment" my reaction was "no way! absolutely not". I couldn't imagine doing something so major outside of the U.S. - it just doesn't seem safe. My mind is slowly changing for three reasons:

1) This is Oxford, England, not a third-world country. I would feel safe while traveling and would trust that the hospital would be held to high standards.

2) This is the clinic that pretty much pioneered IVM and is a part of the renowned
Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. I would actually feel safer in the hands of Dr. Child's, vs. Dr. Morris in Chicago, only because Dr. Child's had an extensive amount of experience in this arena, in comparison.

3) The fact that we would be able to get away from it all and focus on this experience and nothing else - a little "infertility vacation" if you will - seems like icing on the cake. I do think we should be mindful of the possible effect flying and the time change could have on the success of the treatment and would need to discuss this more in depth with the doctor before making our decision.

Speaking of... once we hear back about my ovary situation, and provided we're still a candidate, I'm guessing that would be our next step - to make a phone consultation with Dr. Child's to talk about the big picture and what exactly this might mean for us.

EEEeeeek! Again, I really shouldn't be getting all worked up about this but the possibility of saving money, avoiding potentially risky injectable meds, possibly moving treatment time frame up and traveling to England is way too cool!!

In the end, I still need to be mindful of how good God is, regardless of how this IVM Oxford thing turns out. I mean when I break it down - yes, we are dealing with some pretty big things. Yes, we are making sacrifices in order to secure a better future for our family. Yes, we may have to undergo some uncomfortable procedures. Yes, our heart breaks from time to time with a feeling of emptiness. BUT, we are so lucky to have a warm and comforting roof over our heads. To have two fur babies that make me smile the minute I walk in the door. To have good paying jobs. To have supportive parents and a few close supportive friends. To have each other. God is the only one we have to thank for that - he is looking out for us well before we know we'll be confronted with an issue. I'm trusting that even as we deal with this, he is looking out for our future and this is just part of our journey. We will be stronger for it!

Ok so now on to the details of doing IVM in Oxford with Dr. Tim Child. Here are some resources you might find helpful. If you have any additional info to add, please let me know!

Cost Analysis - A spreadsheet I created to take a closer look at the overall costs.

A link to the Clinic's Prices - Costs listed on site are in British Pounds. Above doc converts them to U.S.)

Oxford Fertility Clinic

IVM Procedure in Detail - These sites explain the overall steps and timeline for an IVM cycle

IVM Cycle Compared to IVF - A short news article on IVM as a whole

IVM babies - News story about a couple who underwent IVM with Dr. Tim Child

For the record....
Here is the link to the Chicago clinic that does IVM:
And here is another clinic in the U.S. that claims to also do IVM (It doesn't seem like many clinics are doing IVM yet, so I've had trouble locating another one besides the one in Chicago). I will most likely e-mail them as well just to see what they charge, but haven't done so yet.

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