Patient Story

Katie & Mike  

Advanced Maternal Age
Diminished ovarian reserve
Unexplained Infertility
Joseph Doyle, M.D.
Rockville, Maryland
Danvers, MA
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Shared Donor Egg

It took Mike and I a very long time to find each other. We didn’t meet until we were in our thirties. We traveled everywhere while we were dating and finally started the ultimate voyage together when we got married in 2013.

I always asked my doctor if I should be worried about my fertility because of my age, but I was reassured that I was healthy and my family history suggested a long fertility window. I was sort of lulled into a false sense of security.

When Mike and I got married, I was 38 and he was 36. We started trying right away but nothing happened. Due to my age, we skipped a lot of the preliminary stages and were launched right into in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

We live in the Boston area, so we started with treatment close to home. We had several egg retrievals that yielded nominal results – between 4 – 8 eggs each time. Though we were told the egg quality was strong each time, the transfers just didn’t take. Additionally, our insurance only covered a limited amount of egg retrievals, so we tried several rounds of intrauterine inseminations (IUI) to see if that could work. It was just month after month of disappointment.

We really weren’t educated about the consequences of the multiple rounds of fertility meds on my already limited fertility. On one horrendous day, I got a call from my Boston clinic that my follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level was too high and my treatment would no longer be covered by insurance.

We were absolutely stunned and devastated.

Finding the Shared Risk 100% Refund Program at SGF

We immediately sought additional opinions and discovered that the only way that I would be able to carry a child was through egg donation. It took us a little time to absorb the new information. It was particularly difficult for me to accept that my own eggs just wouldn’t work.  
Since insurance wouldn’t cover further treatment, we had to self-pay. We looked into programs overseas because the cost was significantly less than anything in our area. When I consulted with my primary care physician and my OB/GYN about going abroad for treatment, they strongly advocated that I seek treatment domestically, if possible.  
After exhaustive research, we discovered the Shared Risk Program 100% Refund Program at Shady Grove Fertility. To learn that there was a program with a money-back guarantee for fertility treatment gave us renewed hope. We checked with clinics in our own area to see if there was a similar option and we were literally told, “our results are so good, we don’t need a program like that.” Guess what: our personal results weren’t that good, and we just couldn’t take the leap without that guarantee.  
We reached out to SGF and started with a phone consult. We were instantly put at ease by the Shared Risk team. We felt even better after a trip to the Rockville office to meet with Dr. Chang (now retired). The fact that SGF has their own egg donor program made the process seamless.  
We chose the three-to-one program, so we shared our donor with 2 other families. Once we chose our donor, the process moved pretty quickly. We received 9 eggs from our donor. Six eggs fertilized and 4 of those eggs progressed to 5-day blastocysts. 
I was able to have all of my preliminary appointments in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Manhattan. I only had to go to Rockville, Maryland, for the transfer appointments. 
The first transfer didn’t take but gave us invaluable information about how I responded to the medications. Dr. Chang adjusted my medication regimen and the next transfer took.  

Healing and moving forward

We did not genetically test our embryos before the transfer, so the next embryo had a chromosomal abnormality that was incompatible with life and I miscarried. While devastating, it let us know pregnancy was possible. After healing, we moved forward again.  
We hit another barrier as we moved to the next transfer: COVID. My transfer was already scheduled just as the whole world shut down. I’ll never forget the call from Dr. Chang when he explained that there was no data about the impact of COVID on pregnancy and clinics were starting to shut down. He was willing to move forward as long as they remained open. Mike and I knew we had to keep going. 
I had been taking trains to my preliminary appointments and flying home to avoid overnight stays each time. With the pandemic, that wasn’t going to work. Interstate travel was becoming increasingly difficult. We actually had to get a letter to carry with us that said it was medically necessary for us to travel. We jumped in the car and headed south for our transfer. A trip that would normally take 9-10 hours took 7 because nobody else was traveling. 
When we arrived at the hotel across the street from the Rockville clinic, the normally busy hotel was eerily quiet. We were amongst a handful of people. When we arrived at the clinic, my nurse, Gail, gave me a reassuring hug before we went in for the transfer. We saw that little flash on the ultrasound screen and hoped for the best. 
We were cautiously optimistic when we got positive pregnancy results. We were due in December 2020. We missed out on telling people in person or seeing many people while I was pregnant. My baby shower with friends was over Zoom. My best friend dropped all of the gifts and decorations on our front porch and left. 

Our miracle

In December 2020, our dreams came true when we welcomed our little Matthew into the world. He was our little Christmas miracle. Every tear, every needle, and every disappointment evaporated. We could not believe how lucky we were to hold this precious baby in our arms. 
After a few months of appreciating our little miracle, we realized: we had one embryo left. We reached back out to SGF. Dr. Chang retired just after Matthew’s delivery, so we were now working with Dr. Doyle for an additional frozen embryo transfer.

Completing our family

Dr. Doyle was just as wonderful as Dr. Chang and very encouraging with every preliminary appointment. I was able to complete all preliminary appointments in Manhattan this time – significantly closer to home. Once again, we went to Rockville for our transfer and hoped for the best when we saw the little flash on the ultrasound screen.  
We were in disbelief when we got the news that this pregnancy also took. With the way timing worked out, we were once again due in December.  
In December 2022, we welcomed baby Tess into our family almost exactly 2 years after Matthew arrived. We still can’t believe that we were lucky enough to have 2 babies from the same donation. We went from thinking we would never become parents to having 2 beautiful children. Thanks to the team at SGF, our family is complete. 


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