Kelli H. works for an organization that arranges travel opportunities for students. "Travel is a natural for me," she says. Her husband, who works in the finance industry, also enjoys travel. When the couple married, they were both nearly 40 years old. They wanted a child and began trying to start a family right away, but they were unsuccessful. In 2010 Kelli, a believer in alternative and natural therapies, visited an acupuncturist and soon became pregnant. Sadly, she miscarried.
But she wasn't ready to give up. Next came a consultation with a local fertility doctor, who presented the couple with a daunting schedule of fees. The price rose higher the greater the woman's age, and Kelli estimated her bill would top US$40,000.
The couple decided they needed to find another option, so they started investigating fertility treatment overseas. A friend recommended Barbados Fertility Center, having successfully undergone treatment at BFC a few years before. Kelli called the center, assuming she'd have to pay a hefty fee simply for a telephone consultation, but she spoke to Dr. Juliet Skinner for 45 minutes at no charge.
Kelli's decision was made. She arranged for her medical records to be transferred to Barbados, and the BFC staff helped her order the medications she needed—at a price far cheaper than she had been quoted at home. Kelli began making travel plans, using frequent flyer miles and some hotel "bennies" from her job to arrange their trip at a fraction of the normal cost.
In Barbados, Kelli and her husband were delighted that they needed to spend only a few hours at the doctor's office. They stayed within walking distance of the clinic and spent most of their time enjoying what Kelli describes as "a two-week vacation, stress free."
Kelli's IVF process went smoothly, and four viable embryos resulted. She had two implanted and the other two frozen. Back home, a pregnancy test was positive. She was initially delighted but soon miscarried. Kelli was discouraged, but not devastated, because she knew she still had two frozen embryos at BFC.
She and her husband returned to Barbados in December 2011 for a shorter stay, only six days. The additional embryos were implanted and resulted in pregnancy. This time Kelli carried the pregnancy nearly to term. Five weeks before her due date, however, she suddenly developed the complication preeclampsia, and her baby had to be delivered early. The delivery went smoothly, and Kelli gave birth to a healthy, 6-pound (2.75-kilogram) baby boy.
Kelli estimates her total cost—including travel, medications, and medical care—came to approximately US$10,000. That's about a fourth of what her fertility treatment would have cost at home.
Kelli thinks some people don't know they have options for fertility treatment outside their home city or state. She also thinks some worry that care outside the US might be of poor quality. "That's a totally irrational fear—you shouldn't fear that at all," Kelli says. "Unless you didn't have the time, I think if you knew what kind of experience you could have, why would you not try it?"
Last updated on 29 November 2015
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.