David and Heather D., Washington, US
After trying to conceive for over ten years, David and Heather visited their local fertility doctor. “The experience was appalling,” says David. “We paid $500 for a consultation and exam and were treated with impersonal, hard-sell tactics. They followed our exam with a chat with the financial person, who was obviously trying to close the deal and get us to agree to a three-IVF package at a cost of more than $25,000. We felt as though we were talking to used-car salesmen. We left discouraged and humiliated. Heather cried.”
Luckily, that same week, David and Heather were talking to some friends who had moved to Honduras. The friends asked if the couple had considered medical treatment outside the US. Their curiosity aroused, David and Heather did some research on the Internet and found Barbados Fertility Center. They contacted Anna Hosford, BFC's clinic director, who explained the center's approach. She suggested that the couple contact a former BFC patient who lives in Canada.
The couple called the former patient and enjoyed a pleasant talk with her. She had nothing but good things to say about her experience. “After that chat, we felt comfortable with the idea, so we made our arrangements with BFC,” says David. “We received a well-organized packet of information from BFC and chatted many times with [BFC's medical director] Dr. Juliet Skinner and Anna Hosford. They were friendly, helpful, and understanding,” he reports.
To prepare Heather’s body for IVF, BFC sent hormone medications to Spokane by mail. “The medications arrived from Italy and Canada, at half the US cost,” says David. Carefully following Dr. Skinner’s instructions, David gave the shots to Heather at home. “The process seemed daunting at first,” David admits, “but with kind help from the BFC staff, it was really quite easy.”
After a month of injections, the couple was ready. The IVF treatment requires two weeks, but David and Heather booked their trip for three, allowing time for a relaxing vacation. They flew to Barbados and stayed at a BFC-recommended hotel, just a short walk down a white-sand beach from the clinic. After the exams and successful egg extraction, gestation, consultation, and embryo implantation, the couple stayed in Barbados for another week and toured the island.
“Our experience in Barbados was wonderful,” says David. “The island is so gorgeous, and the people are so kind and easygoing. We drove around, saw beautiful sights, towns, and people. We sailed, swam in the ocean with turtles, and enjoyed the warm tropical sun. It was truly a relaxing and memorable experience worth telling of—not just a cold hospital procedure.”
BFC attracted the couple with its high success rates, beautiful location, and comparatively low prices. David and Heather saved money by using flight miles from their credit card to pay for their plane tickets. Beyond that, the cost of their trip—including hotel, food, tourism, medications, and all clinic charges—totaled approximately US$12,000. The treatment was, in David’s words, “better than in the US.”
Back home in Spokane, Heather’s pregnancy was confirmed, and her local obstetrician provided routine care throughout her pregnancy. In February 2009, David and Heather welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world. “Our daughter is so sweet, smart, and beautiful,” says David. “We have a wonderful story to tell her about how she was conceived. We are blessed.”
Last updated on 9 March 2013
Before Leaving the Hospital: Get All the Paperwork
Impatient to be gone, and often suffering the woozy side effects of surgery and post-operative pharmaceuticals, patients too often find themselves back at home later, missing important documents that could have more easily been obtained on site. So before you hightail it out of your hospital or clinic, be sure that you have all of your important documents.
Generally, larger hospitals provide complete medical documentation as part of the standard exit procedure. However, some smaller clinics may rely more on verbal instructions, and they are less likely to build and maintain a dossier on your case.