Or, How Shady Grove Got All Our Money, Plus Some.
Once we knew this would be our best option for a successful pregnancy, that was the beginning of some serious number crunching to see if it was even possible. Shady Grove has a wonderful program, called the shared risk program. The Shared Risk 100% Refund program entitles the patient to undergo up
to 6 cycles of fresh or frozen donor egg treatment as well as any
subsequent frozen embryo cycles and receive a 100% money-back guarantee
if a baby is not delivered. The pros are that if you need more than one cycle, you are getting a huge discount and you can drop out at any time if it just becomes too much and get a full refund. The con is if you are lucky on your first cycle, you have paid more than what you would have if you'd done a single cycle.
Shady Grove also has the option of a shared donor cycle, where two or three patients share all the eggs from one donor. The pro is that this is a cheaper option, at about 1/2 the cost of a traditional donor egg cycle. The con is that it can take longer for all the recipients to pick a donor and get their cycles coordinated. The third recipient also has a slightly higher risk of being cancelled if there are not enough eggs retrieved.
None of these options are cheap, ranging from $13,3000 for one cycle of shared donor 1:3 up to $39,000+ for a traditional 1:1 Shared Risk program. So we started saving for the least expensive option and hoping for the best. We figured it would take us at least a year to get the money needed for the IVF, plus the costs for the actual baby if we got so lucky. We could have done it right away, but neither of us was comfortable with completely depleting our savings on something that wasn't even a sure thing, plus we were grieving and just not ready physically or emotionally to try again.
Shady Grove occasionally does donor egg seminars at which they donate a free cycle. We actually signed to attend one of these seminars in January of 2012 in Philadelphia. We drove up during a snow storm for a chance at our dream. Because of the weather, only 11 couples made it and we were very hopeful with those odds. At the end of the seminar, which was conducted by our doctor, they drew for the free cycle. We didn't win and I managed to hold it together for all of five minutes before I started to sob while Jim hugged me. Once I got myself together, we went to say goodbye to Dr. Levens and he said that he saw us in the back and was very sorry that we didn't win. He has always been so kind to us and genuinely wished for us to be successful. I cried again. This experience made us even more determined to have one more chance of a child of our own.
We will forever be grateful to a very generous family member who, in early 2012, offered us an interest free loan for half of our estimated costs. This is a gift that we would never, ever have asked for. This let us reach out to Shady Grove months earlier than we would have been able to otherwise. We were finally ready to move ahead.
Part III: Picking a donor