Describe your experience with Wake Forest University.
The bottom line is I was successful in completing my Family at Wake Forest. I don't believe I would have had the same outcome at the first clinic (REACh) where I was a patient.
The greatest strengths at WF are the people! In addition to the exceptional Doctors and medical staff, the other members of the team operate at the same standard. The receptionist and phlebotomists were attentive and efficient. The billing department (Patti) was AVAILABLE, knowledgeable, creative in helping us with our expenses, and cared about my outcome. The embryologists (my Babies' first babysitters) were AVAILABLE, skilled, and... again... caring.
This is a smaller clinic. The stats don't have the big numbers you find at other places, but the percentages are great.
I am a member of an online group for infertility with thousands of others walking the infertility journey in search of their baby(ies). The individualized and involved care I received was unparalleled when comparing notes with other members of the group. Other members were often surprised at the amount of detailed information I had about my case; the direct communication with my RE, embryologist, and the staff; the availability and knowledge of the billing department; and the overall care shown to me and my Donor throughout the process.
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
I had previously been with REACh in Charlotte, so had first hand knowledge of the "cattle" approach to infertility treatment for woman. My experience with Wake Forest Baptist Health Center for Reproductive Medicine doctors and staff was the exact opposite. They KNEW me. After the first visit the receptionist, nurses, assistants, embryologists, doctors, billing representative... everyone knew my name, my infertility history, my Husband, my Known Donor... my story. They all CARED. From the first meeting Dr. Johnston spent time listening to me and keeping me informed of the details of my results and next steps. Being involved was important to me and she welcomed my participation. When I needed information I emailed her directly. She always replied quickly... once even when she was on vacation. I worked directly with the embryologists when determining which embryos to transfer. I had pictures and detailed information about every embryo. I was very involved in my process and the clinic respected that and worked with me. With both pregnancies I had wonky beta results. Everyone at the clinic "held my hand" through the grueling wait to determine if my pregnancies would be viable. During the wonky beta experience with my 2nd pregnancy Dr. Johnston was at a conference in Hawaii. She still contacted me directly through that time to help with questions and concerns. I have a Known Donor and their care for her was wonderful.
In the end I don't know that it really matters if you're treated like a human. The goal is to have a baby and, when push comes to shove, not much else matters, but it sure makes the experience gentler when you have understanding doctors and staff that care about your journey and your family. infertility is a nightmare journey. Choosing a smoother road by working with Dr. Johnston was one of the best choices I made in the process.
Describe your experience with your nurse.
Following Dr. Johnston's style and direction, the nursing staff is devoted to reaching the goal to have a baby. They were organized, efficient, thorough, compassionate, skilled, and caring.
How was your experience with Erika Johnston-MacAnanny?
On day one with Dr. Johnston she candidly told me at my age she would move straight to donor eggs if my objective was to have a baby. She showed me the statistics of other options. She was informative and supportive. She spent as much time with me and my Husband as we needed to answer all of our questions. After the first meeting I had her email address. I didn't hesitate to use it and her response time was amazing.
Our first two transfers resulted in negative betas. After each she sat with me to plan our next steps and to answer long lists of questions I had. She allowed me to be involved in the protocol planning. When I had ideas she was open to them. After the 2nd negative result she ordered aggressive testing and found an issue which she was able to correct.
The next transfer resulted in a positive beta. My betas don't double like other people's betas. Because of this, I didn't get my results from the lab or a nurse. Dr. Johnston worked directly with me through this. She explained what would likely occur and kept me informed of what to expect. When my little wonky beta turned into a heartbeat and numbers aligned to what the norms are I think she was about as happy and excited as my Husband and I were.
Dr. Johnston worked with me to plan my 2nd pregnancy in a manner and time-frame that worked for my Family.
Throughout my journey she was not only the doctor, she was the overall care manager. She individualized my plan of care to meet my goals. She directed her staff in a manner that made each step as painless and as efficient as could be. She accepted and worked with my need to be involved in each step. She offered the information needed to allow for true informed consent. She stayed focused on the big picture while not missing a single detail.
I have a Known Donor. As she did with me, she took prodigious care of her. Donors provide no income to facilities. All of their expenses are incurred by the intended parent(s). With Dr. Johnston it isn't about generating revenue. It's about offering the care it takes to help women come our of the nightmare journey of infertility with a baby(ies) in her arms. She will treat everyone with respect and dignity and be as gentle and thorough as possible.
I've taken my Children back in to show off to the staff and Dr. Johnston. It feels like coming Home. They still care about me and they care about my beautiful Children they helped bring into this world!
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Erika Johnston-MacAnanny?
Listen to her and talk to her about your wishes and needs... she has the knowledge and your best interest at heart. She probably wants you to have a baby as much as you want it.
Describe the protocols Erika Johnston-MacAnanny used in your cycles and their degree of success.
The below is from memory and my oldest Child is 3, so I could be forgetting parts. Also, I had previous to infertility had tests related to blood-clotting factors, so these were not part of my protocol, but would have been if it had not been done previously.
1st cycle for me and Known Donor... Lupron, Estradal tablets, Vivelle Dot patches, Progesterone in oil, Follistim, Menopur, hCG trigger, and antibiotics for my DH and Donor. Transferred 2 fresh embryos. I think this is all pretty run of the mill. (Negative beta.)
2nd cycle: Dr. performed a SIS. Same protocol for me minus Lupron. I did acupuncture as well. Transferred two thawed embryos. (Negative beta.)
Prior to 3rd transfer: Hysteroscopy and an endo biopsy. The hysteroscopy uncovered a medical issue that was corrected during the procedure. The issue was probably what was keeping implantation from happening. We did some basic immunological testing at this time as well, but I do not remember the specifics. Dr. Johnston was open to every idea I had during our appointment following the failed transfer. We discussed all options and decided together how to move forward.
3rd cycle: Same protocol as 2nd plus low-dose aspirin, Medrol, Folgard, and Valium at transfer. Continued with acupuncture. Transferred two thawed embryos. (Positive beta resulting in a live birth!) I remained under Dr. Johnston's care until we heard a heart beat and was release to my midwives' care.
4th cycle: My period returned on its own, so we did a "natural" cycle protocol. I was still breastfeeding my Daughter during this transfer, so medications were limited to what was not contraindicated. Transferred onethawed embryo. (Positive beta resulting in 2nd live birth!)
My Family is complete.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Erika Johnston-MacAnanny.
I do not remember the specifics for the fresh transfer, but know it was in line with what other clinics charged. An FET was $2700 (2012 & 2014). Because our insurance covered very little, but we still paid as we went, we were given significant discounts of overall costs. Patti, in billing was great!