Editor's note: Lisa LeMone says she was a client of Dr. Michael Kamrava starting in 2002. This is her personal account of what she says happened to her. We contacted Dr. Kamrava for his response to her story, but his office said they could not comment due to patient confidentiality laws.
When this mother of one found out who the octuplet mom's fertility specialist was, she was shocked. Because he was her doctor, too!
Guest Blogger Lisa LeMone: When I heard that the octuplet mom and I had used the same fertility doctor, I started freaking out. I'm still completely stunned! Dr. Michael Kamrava was my first fertility doctor that I saw for about a year, from around the summer of 2002 until around March of 2003. I didn't really like him and never connected with him, but I stuck with him because I didn't want to start over with another doctor. It sounds stupid now, but the whole fertility thing is so overwhelming.
I always thought his whole operation was fishy ... his wife was a nurse, another relative was the billing person. They charged me for procedures that should have gone directly through insurance, but I could never get my insurance company and his office on the phone at the same time, so nothing ever got resolved. He even canceled the day of a procedure and his office had me travel to another office to see another doctor for the procedure. Talk about stressful!
He never put me out during a couple of pretty painful fertility procedures. Later, when I finally changed fertility doctors, and learned what it was to have a great one, I found out that it is common practice to administer light anesthesia for a "twilight sleep" during certain fertility procedures.
Also, he had a donor egg operation going on in the same office ... a clear conflict of interest ... and he was always pushing the donor egg option on me!
When I changed fertility doctors, I also found out that donor egg agencies and fertility clinics are typically completely separate offices with no relation to each other.
During the time, I was treated by Dr. Kamrava, I always felt like he had an ulterior motive, that he was going through the motions with me for some personal and ultimate goal of his. A friend told me today that she never understood why I continued to be treated by him if I felt negatively toward him. Infertility is complicated and I never dreamed I'd be in a situation where I needed help to conceive. I had already gone through one very expensive consultation with another fertility doctor whom I felt was a bit abrasive ... and who was not on my insurance plan. So I found myself looking through my insurance provider directory for fertility doctors covered through my insurance. A doctor in Beverly Hills seemed a logical and safe choice!
My opinion of him now that I know he treated Nadya Suleman is the same as it was then. I certainly wouldn't recommend him to anyone seeking fertility treatments. And not because he wasn't able to get me pregnant, but because I don't think his first priority is in the best interest of his patients. During his final meeting with me, when all of my fertility insurance allowance had been exhausted (a generous $20,000), and he made it clear, in not so many words, that he would not provide any more treatments to me unless I had some financial plan. Our conversation focused on his in-office pregnancy statistics of women over 40 and then to the option of using donor eggs, a decision I was not ready to make.
After hearing about the octuplet mom, an office visit with Dr. Kamrava (early in my treatment with him) keeps running through my mind. I had already gone through two unsuccessful inseminations and, after weeks of fertility shots, his office was ready to schedule my first IVF. I think I had something like five eggs ... not a lot, but enough for an IVF. As I was scheduling the procedure with the front desk, a nurse, whom I later discovered was Dr. Kamrava's spouse, informed me that my particular insurance only covers the retrieval of two eggs, so I would have to come out of pocket right then and there for the other three eggs at $500 a pop. It didn't make sense to me and I explained that my insurance covered fertility treatments at a lifetime max of $20,000. She pressed the issue and, not wanting to upset the apple cart and giddy about the possibility of finally becoming pregnant, I handed over my credit card. On my way back from his office in Beverly Hills to my office in West L.A., I decided I'd call my insurance company. Sure enough, the insurance company confirmed that there were no restrictions and that I was fully covered. When I called his office to report this and spoke to his billing person, she too insisted that the insurance would not pay to have all of the eggs retrieved. When I offered to get the insurance people on the line, the call was mysteriously dropped. Were they double billing ... charging both me and the insurance company? I don't know. I do know, however, that for my second IVF with him I had four eggs, but strangely enough, I was not charged that time for the "extra" eggs.
Also, during my treatment with him, while in the doctor's waiting room, I would witness young women walking into his office inquiring to the receptionist about Dr. Kamrava's donor egg program. At the time, it seemed a conflict of interest to me, a fertility doctor also running a donor egg agency in the same office, but honestly at the time I didn't think past that.
After my experience with Dr. Kamrava I decided to take a break from fertility treatments and traditional western medicine. A friend suggested I try acupuncture for fertility and recommended a practice in Santa Monica. I loved it and really connected with my doctor. I spent a year being treated there. Although I didn't become pregnant while being treated there, my doctor/acupuncturist ultimately recommended another fertility doctor to me, whom I loved, and for that I am eternally grateful. After another year with the new fertility doctor, I finally became pregnant.
To say the offices of Dr. Kamrava and the offices of the fertility doctor who ultimately got me pregnant were like night and day is an understatement. I realized then the difference between a bad doctor and a great and caring professional ... nursing and billing staff included.