Please pardon the pun. I couldn’t help myself. This is a belated post. The events in this post actually took place back in September. My first batch of eggs were harvested at NYU in October 2013 (I really sound like a hen right now). NYU provides free storage of eggs in the first year, but after that, the fee is a whopping $2250 a year! At New Hope, the storage fees after the first 6 months are $1200 a year. Quite a significant difference in rent. Since the one year mark at NYU was approaching, I decided to make arrangements to avoid paying “double rent.” New Hope’s Dr. Zhang assured me that New Hope understands the freezing/thawing protocol at NYU. They freeze and thaw oocytes all of the time as they provide donor eggs to potential parents on a regular basis. Freezing and thawing is their bread and butter. This was comforting to me. What’s more, each facility provides instructions to the next provider regarding how they are to be stored and thawed as well. It is not uncommon for eggs to be flown all around the world at no risk to the eggs as they are stored in a big frozen block apparently. My worries about riding the subway with a tank of eggs were therefore alleviated.
The process of arranging the transfer of eggs required me to communicate with New Hope in order to figure out an approximate day for when the transportation of eggs might occur. Then I had to complete paperwork with NYU, pay something like $150 for “administrative costs” (blurgh!), and then schedule the time for pick-up. New Hope charged me nothing for moving the eggs and were much more flexible about the timing of the transfer. NYU is a lot more anal about everything. They charge more, they are available for fewer hours of the day, and scheduling is more rigid and less flexible. For some people, that may be comforting, due to the efficiency and rigidity of their protocols. I found it overly officious and annoying but perhaps I was becoming increasingly annoyed at the costs of everything. I work at a major medical center, so I am well aware of the profiteering that can happen at elite private hospitals connected with medical schools. It’s mind boggling and, in my eyes, highly unethical. Then again, I also understand what it is like to work within that system and to feel pressured to bring in the revenue in order to justify the existence of a given department. I digress…
On the scheduled day, I went to New Hope to pick up the gas tank that I would need to transport the eggs. The gas tank was pretty heavy. The New Hope guy who brought it to me told me to keep it upright at all times. I asked him what would happen if it fell and he said it would burn me. I noticed there was no tie keeping the lid on the tank. It was a little disconcerting. New Hope can be a bit casual at times. It is worrisome but I guess you pay for what you get. I immediately grabbed a cab as I realized the tank might attract a bit of unwanted attention on the subway. It was the size of a heavy fire extinguisher after all. The cab driver took forever to just go crosstown and with every jerk of acceleration, I clenched my teeth together and gripped the gas tank as if my life depended on it. I didn’t want it to fall over! I finally made it to NYU and I was over an hour early, so I left the tank with the receptionist and went for lunch at a local diner.
Before I knew it, it was time to go back to NYU. I found out that the woman who was going to help me had been there the whole time. My waiting had been for nought. Gah!! Within minutes, she had taken my tank away to put the eggs in and returned with the documentation and instructions for New Hope. They had secured the lid with a proper tie and I was able to make the journey back to New Hope.
This time, the cab driver was much faster, and I managed to get to New Hope pretty quickly. They made me sign a form to make the transfer to New Hope official. Finally, all my eggs were in one place. I asked some questions about storage practices, particularly what would happen to the eggs if I hadn’t paid my yearly fee. (I asked because New Hope is notoriously bad at communicating with patients in a timely fashion). The guy reassured me that nothing would ever happen to them without my consent even if I had not paid my bills. New Hope always has to contact the patient first before taking any action regarding the eggs. I left feeling relieved that my precious eggs had a home at New Hope…for now.
Within a few weeks, I received a bill from NYU for the next year’s egg storage. I called them pretty annoyed since I no longer had a single egg there. It was evidence of billing and clinical service staff not communicating with each other. Sadly, this has happened to me countless times in the US and is so disconcerting to patients. I’m glad that I’m educated, as I always advocate for myself and am aware (most of the time) of what should and should not be charged. But I do always worry about less educated patients who can not advocate for themselves and who would have paid that bill unaware of the error. Needless to say, I did not need to pay that bill and it was cleared from my account.
I may not be writing in this here blog for a while as I’m unlikely to go through more egg freezing in the near future and have no immediate plans to use the eggs. Thank you readers for following my journey and for all of your kind and helpful comments. I shall call this a blog siesta for now…