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Alta Bates In Vitro Fertilization Program (Berkeley, CA)
Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
Re: Fertility specialists in the east bay, ambivalance
I started working with Dr. Chet when I turned 40. I had previously done a series of clomid/IUI cycles due to the low cost, but did not have much luck with that route and felt like the clomid wreaked havoc with my system. Looking back now, I wouldn't have spent so much time with that protocol, considering my age. I wish I had recognized sooner that it wasn't working for me and moved on to something else.
I did get pregnant via stimulated IUI with injectables, but unfortunately had a few early losses. Dr. Chet cared for me and did the surgeries. I trusted him completely and always felt I was in the good hands of a very experienced doctor.
My final success story was due to IVF, which I did at age 42. It was a tough decision financially and emotionally to advance to such measures, but Dr. Chet provided honest guidance about my declining odds, without pressuring me. I have great respect for him because of this.
While I agree that his demeanor is different and not touchy-feely, I sensed his caring and concern in a different ways. He scheduled my IVF procedure on the July 4th holiday which fell on a Saturday. I was surprised that he would be working that day, but he said time was of the essence.
I also felt very comfortable with his nurses and staff who were personable in the conventional ways he might not have been. They were always accommodating to my schedule and I was able to get last minute appointments easily.
As I now have the child I had wanted for so long, I definitely feel it was all worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Dr. Chet was the right doctor for me and what I needed, and he lead me to a successful outcome. I hope some of my experience can be helpful in the decisions you will be facing. Best of luck to you. -Fellow Dr. Chet patient
I will tell you my story and then some thoughts on the bedside manner issue. I saw Dr. C because I had plans to do IVF with PGD due to genetic issues. During my workup for the IVF, he discovered that I have a fertility issue with my uterine lining not developing adequately (in addition to my genetic concerns). He addressed this using a treatment option that had only recently been published which indicated to me that he is still concerned with being at the top of his profession rather than relying on older methods. Then, during my HSG there was a major problem with my cervix and despite 30+ mins of painful trying, the doctor performing the procedure was unable to insert the catheter to squirt the dye. He was going to give up which would mean postponing everything by a month. He offered to call Dr. C before I left the room and upon receiving the call Dr. C left his office immediately, came across the street to the hospital in the poring rain, scrubbed in and did the procedure himself. He then stayed with me when I was in so much pain I could not get off the table. No other Dr. I have ever had would have done this for me.
After 6 months of work together, my IVF was scheduled which required careful planing on his part due to the PGD component. A few weeks later, after a lot of contemplation, I changed my mind about the IVF and decided I wanted to conceive naturally. When I called the office to say I thought I was pregnant, he called me back personally to tell me the test was positive and celebrated with me even though he had also just lost a 20 thousand dollar client. He continued to monitor my pregnancy throughout the first trimester, adding progesterone when my numbers dipped, being there for me (again a personal call) when I had sudden bleeding at 7 weeks late on Friday night and performing an ultrasound the next morning just to make sure everything was still good. My point is if you want to get and stay pregnant and there are fertility or genetic issues, I can not imagine a Dr. who will be more able and more committed to this outcome and work from the heart to get you there. So, Id say, dont commute when the best doc is right near by.
Regarding the bedside manner, I did hear this about him before starting treatment and I did a couple things to address it. Overall, my goal was to change the dynamic from that of typical dr/patient to that of two colleagues working towards a common goal. I achieved this by asking highly technical questions forcing him to really get inside his brain to get to the answer at the level I was asking for. I also didn't hold anything back when it came to sharing my opinions on things that I liked, didn't like, etc. When he was direct at me, I was direct right back. He seemed to really respect this approach and this changed the way he interacted with me. For you, tell him straight up that you want to go straight to IVF and why. Stand up for what you want. He will probably respond well to that. I will see Dr. C again when its time for #2 whether its just to get my uterus ready for conception or going with the full IVF PGD. Good luck with your decision and if you chose to move forward, conception and pregnancy! A Dr. C fan
Re: Reproductive Endocrinologist in East Bay
Hello, In response to wanting a recommendation for a reproductive endocrinologist. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and following that chemotherapy, so our whole getting pregnant experience was at the doctor (as we had to use frozen sperm). Kaiser San Francisco has a great reproductive endocrinology department. Dr. Huang was wonderful and his nurses were very helpful. We eventually did IVF through the Alta Bates program, also a wonderful experience - Dr. Chetkowski is extremely knowledgeable. I know we were in a different situation, but I believe all of these doctor's work not only with getting you pregnant, but keeping you pregnant too! CG
Re: Recurrent miscarriage - resources & fertility recs
I can highly recommend that you talk with Leslie Oldershaw, a wonderful and very knowledgeable womens-reproductive health advocate who blends both Eastern & Western perspectives -- she is an accupuncturist. She has a beautiful, relaxing, and very professional practice at the top of Grand Avenue. She is also works closely with women to help them understand, research, and know their options in interacting with the world of fertility specialists. Her personal, wholistic, and caring environment made a huge difference in my experiences with challenges of getting & remaining pregnant.
If you do go the RE route, I highly recommend Dr. Ryzard Chetkowski who is a Reproductive Endocrinologist with his own practice near Alta Bates. I find, and know myself, that there can feel like a huge barrier or committment to talk with a RE. But, I highly recommend setting up an appointment to talk with someone like Dr. Chet. He is very clear-thinking and will be able to very quickly help you understand where you may fall in the realm of fertility issues and considerations. Of course, they will always be willing to move forward into helping you (i.e. starting fertility based assistance), but he would be a very clear and kind, experienced doctor, for helping you understand how your situation fits in the fertility world.
My experience is based on using Dr. Chetkowski & Leslie to conceive one healthy daughter (now 2), after dealing with an ectopic pregnancy & a number of fertility issues. I also worked with others, who were *not* good, and so have a strong basis for recommending these two. Good luck. reba
Re: local fertility specialist
Dr. Chetkowski from the Alta Bates IVF program has mostly good reviews on this board, but I would give him and his staff a mixed review. I’ve done one IUI and one attempted IVF, which the office botched and then tried to save with an IUI. My IVF cycle was going very well (predictions for at least 12 eggs - likely enough to have some to freeze for another cycle if the implantation wasn’t successful), but at the end of the cycle, one of the nurses became confused and gave me a shot that was 100X what the doctor had ordered! As a result, I ovulated before the doctor expected and it was too late to retrieve the eggs. We did an IUI to try to save the cycle, but it really was too late.
Dr. Chetkowski was very, very sorry about the whole thing, and agreed to waive all charges ($10K!) and reimburse me for the drugs (another $2K!). I half-expected him to deny that the incorrect dosage came from his office, to say that my early ovulation could not have been helped, and to refuse to give me a refund; so I do appreciate his honesty.
But it should not have happened. IVF is such an intense procedure – up to 5 shots per day, daily drawing of blood for testing, daily probing of the you-know-what for ultrasounds – and often one doesn’t even get very many eggs. To have at least 12 eggs go to waste after weeks of injections was heartbreaking.
Dr. Chetkowski does seem very competent and knowledgeable to me. But he is terse, and is not forthcoming with explanations about what he’s doing. I need to understand my treatment, so I ask a lot of questions which he does not have time to answer. The nurses, though mostly helpful and supportive, sometimes seem annoyed at my questions and give me answers that I later find are incorrect.
So, a mixed review for Dr. Chetkowski and Alta Bates IVF. He has good reviews on this board, good success rates, and is conveniently located in Berkeley. But he rarely takes the time to explain what’s going on, and his staff is not knowledgeable enough to fill in the gaps. And, the office made a major, major mistake in my treatment. anon
We've been trying for our second child for some time now, and were just referred to either Dr. Willman or Dr. Chetkowski. I've checked the recommendations on the website, but since the most recent were in 2001, I was hoping to get more current information. Any recommendations for either, positive or negative experiences, would be greatly appreciated.
RE: Dr. Chetkowski, Director of the Alta Bates IVF Program
When we first met Dr. Chetkowski and his staff, after over than a year of trying to get pregnant, we immediately realized that we are on the right track. After six months of treatment, including IUI and hormone injections, we got pregnant. During these six months we got to recognize the remarkable professionalism of Dr. Chetkowski and his consistent ability to choose the optimal steps, which eventually led us to a successful pregnancy. Rarely one meets such a combination of professional skill, determination, and tenderness, as what we have found in Dr. Chetkowski. We will be forever grateful to Dr. Chetkowski for his achievement. Last but not least, we would like to mention the extraordinary attitude and support we received from Dr. Chetkowski's staff.
We went to Dr. Chetkowski at the Alta Bates Fertility Clinic in Berkeley and I can't say enough about how wonderful I think he and the entire staff are. Dr. Chetkowski is an excellent fertility doctor and his staff is warm, caring, supportive and nurturing. We tried artificial insemination a number of times without success and then got pregnant on our first try with IVF. I would recommend them highly even if we had not ever gotten pregnant.
I went through successful in vitro fertilization at Alta Bates fertility clinic under Dr. Chetkowski. He runs the show. I never saw anyone but the Dr. and his two nurses. They were wonderful! I have twins to show for it from one round of treatment.
I highly recommend Dr. Chetkowski for consultation or treatment 649-0440. He has a poor reputation for bedside manner but he is a clinical master. My feeling is that your group comes late to infertility issues, while he has made a career of it.
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