IVF Overseas? Medical Travel

It was really an accident that got us to decide to have international IVF in my hubby’s home country of Serbia. I’ve heard of medical travel, but never really considered having IVF in Europe, until…

When we visited in the spring and I had yet another painful gallbladder attack, we started considering having it treated while we were there.  After recommendations by 2 people we were close to, we made an appointment for a private hospital and I went in for an exray. After having one done in the US – during which the tech had a very hard time finding anything – we were really impressed by the fast exam and very clear results. We scheduled the surgery, and for an amazingly huge difference in cost, I was scheduled to have my gallbladder removed.

Before we left to Serbia, we checked into pricing for the gallbladder removal. It was a huge concern, especially since we were trying to hard to get pregnant – what if I had an attack while pregnant that absolutely had to be treated? They were always very, very painful, but without insurance, we were up the river without a way of getting it removed – unless we could come up with upwards of $14,000, the price quoted to me by our local hospital (not including the doctor fees, etc. That was JUST for the hospital). In and out on the same day.

When I had my gallbladder removed in Serbia, I spent almost an entire week in the private hospital. I was treated like a queen. I could not feel any more strongly about recommending this to anyone. I was in so much pain, and it was looking so hopeless that I’d be able to afford it easily – sure, we’d find the money to do it in the US, but we’d likely be paying it off for a year or two.

The private hospital in Serbia only cost me $1400. For everything. Gallbladder surgery, hospital stay, medicines, 24 hour nurse care when I wasn’t able to get out of bed (the first day or two). Anesthesia. Everything. God bless this country and the private hospital that cared for me. It was the best $1400 I ever spent.

IVF Cost – US vs. Serbia

In early 2011, we researched the price of IVF in a local IVF clinic in Indiana, which charged in the neighborhood of $12,000 per cycle, regardless of result or if there was an embryo transfer. We priced IVF at a Chicago IVF clinic, who charged around $14,000 per cycle. Neither clinic included medicines, of course, but neither did the private clinic we were considering in Belgrade. The cost of IVF in the private clinic in Belgrade, though, gave us a price of $3,000 for a complete cycle, including exams and bloodwork throughout the treatment cycle, aspiration of eggs and embryo transfer. If there was no embryo transfer (in the case of no embryo/eggs) then they would only charge $1500 which would include everything up to the aspiration. Amazing.

Medical Travel IVF

After that amazingly successful and affordable gallbladder surgery, we started considering consulting with an IVF clinic in Belgrade. We made an appointment, I had a preliminary exam, met with the doctor, and we loosely agreed that we’d come back in a few months for IVF. Not to mention the price was absolutely right.

Would I go to Serbia for IVF if I didn’t have a Serbian husband? I’m not really sure – depends on how badly I wanted it. You do have to consider the cost of the flight, which is generally above $1,000 per person. Staying at a hotel in Belgrade would not be cheap – likely $200 a night for a decent place, maybe more. You could rent an apartment, but that would really take knowing someone here to arrange it for you. There are medical travel websites out there, but I don’t know much about medical travel for IVF to Serbia.

Most people here speak English, or at least enough of it to get by. There were times I was in the dark because naturally people will prefer to speak their native language when possible. If both me and my husband were only English speaking, maybe they would have done better speaking English to us.  I guess the bottom line is, it might be a little scary, but the more educated people like the doctors and many nurses do speak English, and will speak English. The deciding factor for me would be the cost of flying here and staying here for the 2-3 weeks you spend here during the treatment. Of course, I also tend to believe that many times the first round of IVF is more of a trial run, and you almost have to expect you’ll need to do it twice.

10 Responses to “IVF Overseas? Medical Travel”

  1. Rosy Ilic says:

    Hello

    Can you tell me where they can perform IVF upto the cost of $2000 with my own eggs. My fallopian tubes are damaged but rest of the results are pretty satisfactory. I have all the results required for IVF ready, just to start the procedure. The doctors here are asking pretty high amount, atleast beyond my reach. Would love to hear from you. Regards…

    • Rose says:

      Hi Rosy, I sent you an email, I hope you received it, and I hope it helps. Let me know if you didn’t get it and I will resend. Best of luck and baby dust to you!

  2. Jaione says:

    Hi there,

    I would also like the details of the clinic. I´ve been living in Serbia for work for the last few months and would like to check this out as considering IVF.

    THanks!

    • Rose says:

      I had kept the name of the clinic out of my article when I wrote this out of privacy concerns for me and my family, but so much time has passed now that I don’t see a reason not to share for anyone reading. The clinic we went to was “JEVREMOVA” (Specijalna bolnica za ginekologiju sa porodilištem) Their website is http://www.jevremova.rs

      It’s not very hard to get to, but I don’t recommend walking from the tram or bus especially during treatments. The IVF process is emotionally exhausting and having someone to drive you will make it just a little bit easier, with one less thing to worry about.

      The clinic carries the medication but I believe they are federally subsidized, so those drugs are meant for specific patients covered under the government program (ie., they are not available to purchase there). The 2 pharmacies that carried the drugs I needed were also a bit of a distance from the clinic. I could NOT get most of what I needed from Apoteka Sava (the large centrally located pharmacy in Belgrade). We ended up finding the drugs at one or two smaller pharmacies. Jevremova should be able to give you some business cards/names of pharmacies to get you started in your search. It’s best to call ahead and ask if they have what you need.

      * It has been several years (2011) since we tried IVF, so I don’t know how the cost or quality of service has changed. From my experience, I have more confidence in private clinics of Serbia than I do of those in the US, generally speaking.

      Sending my very best wishes for a healthy pregnancy to you, and anyone else that finds this information helpful. If you have any other questions, please ask.

  3. Lisa Boskovic says:

    So glad I stumbled upon this post! I’m an 29YO American who married a Serb and we live in Florida. THREE ectopic pregnancies within the span of a year convinced my husband and I to pursue IVF.

    Of course, price is a huge concern. Quotes I received from doctors in South Florida seem to average $6,000-$10,000 per cycle, plus $2,000-$5,000 for meds. YIKES!

    My husband’s family lives in Valjevo and we might have the opportunity to stay with them during IVF treatment.

    I am interested in knowing what out-of-pocket costs should be expected for the IVF process in Serbia? We have to weigh that cost against a loss of income we’d experience for being out of the USA for 1-2 months.

    I sincerely appreciate any insight y’all could provide. Thanks!

    • Rose says:

      Lisa, thanks for posting and your great questions. I’m so sorry about your ectopic pregnancies, and hope that IVF helps you in your quest for a child!
      If you can stay with family it will save you some money (we did), but take my advice and put your well-being before the costs and stay in Belgrade if you suspect any stress will come as a result. It is a very stressful process to begin with, and the travelling and outside influences will wear on you. You will be going to appointments often and Valjevo is further than I was staying so I would recommend staying in Belgrade if at all possible, at least during the cycle itself.

      It has been a few years now since we had IVF cycles in Serbia, but here’s what I can recall or have records of what we had to have money for:
      1. Specific vaginal swabs and blood tests. They won’t even start the process without some prerequisite tests. If you get in touch with them before you get to Serbia, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. You can get the prerequisite stuff done like we did, and be ready to go when you get there. They will tell you the names of the tests you have to have done, and you have to have them done within a short period before you start the process (I want to say 2-3 months before, but can’t remember for sure). We did these in the US because we wanted to start with the first cycle after we arrived to Serbia. These cost us about $600 (we had no insurance at the time and paid full cash).
      2. More blood tests. We had to get more tests, closer to the start of the process for HIV, blood type, etc. We did this in Serbia (Biomedica in Belgrade) and it cost about $35
      3. Semen analysis. I can’t remember how much it was, but it was relatively little.
      4. General physical exam. We found a local doctor to do this – included a general physical exam and cost about $30 US.
      5. EKG. You’re required to get this before they will put you under anesthesia. Again we found a local doctor and paid somewhere between $30-$50 US for it.
      6. Fertility injections. This can vary based on your weight. I was overweight (180lbs), so I needed a higher dosage than average. This cost us about $600 per cycle. Try to get to a healthy weight before you start, or close to it if possible, it will help if nothing else, the amount you spend on medicines.
      6b. Optional – I gave myself injections. You can hire a nurse to do it if you’re nervous about it.
      7. Egg aspiration. If you have eggs, aspiration cost us $1500. This included everything (including blood monitoring and vaginal sonograms) up until aspiration.
      8. Embryo transfer. If there is/are embryo(s) return of them was another $1500 (price was regardless of number of embryos. We had 3)

      Keep in mind that there is a 90 day allowed stay for us, so you may want to plan for a trip outside the country in between 2 cycles if you have to do more than one. We also had to rebook our return flight, because we booked a return after 1 cycle thinking optimistically. That’s another expense to consider.

      Best of luck to you and hubby, Lisa. Sending positive thoughts your way!

  4. Aleksandra says:

    Thanks so much for posting this I’m Serbian and going there this June staying for one month and do have one child but not my tubes are blocked and doctors here in us told me to get my tubes put first then to do IVF and of course none of it is covered by insurance .
    I wanted to look just for comparison how much it would Cost to do it there but thought no way I would do it as we were going to do it after out vacation and prices are from like 12000 to 18,000 for one round . Crazy amount of money .
    So I will for sure look into this and call them tomorrow and talk to them see if there would be a way to get prepared for the process here and do it once I get there in June .

    Thanks for sharing your experience .

  5. Stardust says:

    Hi Rose

    Thanks for posting this, it’s so helpful to get an insight on someone else’s experience
    I’m from the uk so would be a lot easier for us to get there and I’ve been to Belgrade once before so that helps a little! We were actually researching and kissing with a clinic in Northern Cyprus as they offer Tandem cycles( your eggs along side a donner egg) I’m over 40 so realistically we’re having to consider donner eggs! We’ve had 4 x failed cycles in the uk so time to try elsewhere!! Just wondering if you know if they offer anything similar to Tandem cycle?! Also in your opinion was this clinic the best from other clinic?! I’m sure you did some research too before deciding on this particular clinic! Can I ask did you get your forever baby?
    Many thanks in advance! ✨✨✨

    • Rose says:

      Hi Stardust! I hadn’t heard of tandem cycles until now, so I can’t offer much in the way of what they’re doing with that in Serbia. We were pretty satisfied with the clinic we chose. We did quite a bit of research before choosing and I’m sure it was one of the best, if not THE best. Apologies for my late response – I keep this blog running mostly for women like you who are still looking for these answers. We tried IVF twice, planned on a 3rd attempt but emotionally were so spent we decided against it. That was some years ago. Now, having reached 45, I’ve started to accept the fact that having a baby is not something that will happen for me. No regrets, we certainly gave it our best try. Sending you positive thoughts and wishes, and I hope everything works out in the best way possible for you!

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